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See the Best 'Pictures of the Year'

A bison, vintage cars, and rangers taking selfies are some of the photos that garnered awards in Pictures of the Year International contest.

National Geographic photographers, editors, and staffers won a total of 28 award in this year's Pictures of the Year International (POYi) contest, the most wins for the organization since it began tracking them in 2011.

The Missouri School of Journalism has run the annual contest that recognizes top photojournalism since 1944. The awards Nat Geo received this year were for both photography and staff editing entries, demonstrating the skill sets of the entire National Geographic team.

The pictures in the above gallery and listed below showcase the exceptional storytelling by our photojournalists that inspired the POYi judges to award them top honors. In addition, Kurt Mutchler and Sadie Quarrier won first and second place in the Magazine/Media Visual Editor of the Year category for multiple stories. The broader team of National Geographic photo editors was also a finalist for the Angus McDougall Overall Excellence in Editing Award.

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Second Place, Feature: Dock workers use a mallet to dislodge frozen tuna aboard a Chinese cargo vessel docked at the city of General Santos, in the Philippines. The cargo vessel spends up to two months at sea with a fleet of a dozen tuna boats working to fill its freezer. See this photo in the Wildlife Watch story "One of the World's Biggest Fisheries Is on the Verge of Collapse."


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Second Place, Portrait: Siblings Julie, Antonio, and India Abram collect their daily allowance of bottled water from Fire Station #3. Located on Martin Luther King Avenue, it is one of five firehouses that have become water resource sites in Flint, Michigan. See this photo in the news story "Intimate Portraits of Flint Show Frustration, Fear, Perseverance."


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Award of Excellence, Portrait: “I was at Pulse the night of the shooting. I was on my way home. I was standing at the door when all of a sudden I heard gunshots and all that. And I ran out the door and I didn’t look back. The past couple days have been very tragic cause I heard that like 50 people got killed. Luckily God blessed me to live another day. My heart goes out to everybody that has family that was involved or killed inside that shooting.” – Demetrius Spires photographed on Latin Night in front of The Parliament House Hotel and Bar, a popular gay hang out in the city of Orlando, Florida, June 16th, 2016. See this photo in the news story "Orlando Strong: A Community United After Massacre."


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Second Place, Portrait Series: The city of Västerås, Sweden, has one of the world's biggest gatherings of vintage American cars, according to the organization Power Big Meet. During the first weekend of July, 15,000 vintage cars and over 150,000 people come to the city to drink and show off their cars. Some cars are old rarities and some are junk cars driven by Swedish greasers who seem more interested in drinking and picking up girls than polishing their cars. This picture was taken during the "parade" where people drive around the city drinking, socializing, and showing off their cars. See this photo in the Picture Stories post "The Classic Cars of Swedish 'Greasers'."


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Award of Excellence, News Picture Story: Rose Dena, 85, attempts to clean what is left of her home in the mountains of southern Haiti more than a month after Hurricane Matthew. See this photo in the Picture Stories post "A Photographer's Journey Into Haiti’s Cholera Crisis."


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Award of Excellence, News Picture Story: A Kurdish soldier consoles a child, also from Mosul. See this photo in the 2016 feature story "Surviving the Fall of ISIS."


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Award of Excellence, Recreational Sports: “Tourism is a double-edged razor,” says Cuban architect Miguel Coyula, who thinks the U.S. embargo has filtered out conventional tourism to Cuba. “The people who come now want to understand,” he says. “But I know that’s about to change, when everybody comes. That’s my fear.” See this photo in the November 2016 feature story "Here Comes a Wave of Change for Cuba."


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Science & Natural History Picture Story, First Place: The skull of a murdered man offered few clues to his identity when it was found in a trash can in Glen Burnie, Maryland, in 1985. But Parabon NanoLabs was able to re-create the victim’s face by using DNA phenotyping combined with key details from the skull. Police hope that someone will recognize the composite image and call 410-222-4700. See this photo in the July 2016 feature story "How Science Is Putting a New Face on Crime Solving."


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Science & Natural History Picture Story, Second Place: In Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley a classic car slows down to take in a classic scene: a bison resting in the sun by the side of the road. Large numbers of bison congregate in the area during the rut season in August. See this photo in the May 2016 feature story "Learning to Let the Wild Be Wild in Yellowstone."


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Science & Natural History Picture Story, Third Place: Ye Ye, a 16-year-old giant panda, lounges in a massive wild enclosure at a conservation center in Wolong Nature Reserve. Her 2-year-old cub, Hua Yan ("Pretty Girl") was released into the wild after two years of "panda training". Her name, whose characters represent Japan and China, celebrates the friendship between the two nations. See this photo in the August 2016 feature story "Pandas Get to Know Their Wild Side."


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Science & Natural History Picture Story, Award of Excellence: A black rhino bull is seen dead, poached for its horns less than 8 hours earlier at Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa. It is suspected that the killers came from a local community approximately 5 kilometers away, entering the park illegally, shooting the rhino at a water hole with a high-powered, silenced hunting rifle. See this photo in the October 2016 feature story "Special Investigation: Inside the Deadly Rhino Horn Trade."


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Science & Natural History Picture Story, Award of Excellence: Virunga Park rangers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo undergo military-style training, including ambush tactics, due to the constant threat from armed groups. See this photo in the July 2016 feature story "Inside the Fight to Save One of the World’s Most Dangerous Parks."


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Environmental Vision Award, Winner: Combines capable of harvesting 25 acres of wheat an hour work a field on the Vulgamore family’s farm near Scott City, Kansas. The harvest usually takes about two weeks. See this photo in the Future of Food series story "A Five-Step Plan to Feed the World."


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Feature Picture Story, First Place: With Yosemite’s Half Dome behind them, rangers Diana del Solar and Christina Warburg strike a pose. Their shots appear on @yosemitenps on Instagram and usinterior on Snapchat. See this photo in the October 2016 feature story "Can the Selfie Generation Unplug and Get Into Parks?"


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Feature Picture Story, Third Place: As the train nears the end of the journey at Kashgar station, a child draws a heart in the desert sand that came along for the ride. See this photo in the news story "Travel 3,000 Miles Through China’s Wondrous Wild West."


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Feature Picture Story, Award of Excellence: Aljazi Alrakan, a dentist who produces an Instagram feed (@jazzebelle) of “lifestyle” images, is filmed at a luxury goods fair in Riyadh. In a nation with few gathering places for both women and men, social media is wildly popular, allowing women an alternative public presence. The photos, with their fashionable accessories and prettily plated food, show her followers “that we’re living a normal life,” she says. See this photo in the February 2016 feature story "The Changing Face of Saudi Women."


Sarah Leen, Nat Geo's director of photography, says what struck her about the awards was how many of them were for digital-first stories and digital presentations of magazine stories—11 in all.

"We have been making a special effort to increase the quality of our online photographic storytelling and this tells me those efforts are paying off," she says.

Pete Muller's win in the Photographer of the Year category was especially poignant because his entry was almost entirely made up of work he did for Nat Geo. The organization also swept the Science & Natural History Picture Story category.

"It is such a pleasure to see that amazing work honored," Leen says. "It is work we do that is not being done by almost anyone else. And it is increasingly important for all of us to see and discuss issues about the environment, science, and the natural world, now more than ever."


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