See the grand prize winner of our Instagram photography contest

Instagram users submitted more than 94,000 photos in 24 hours. This is the image our photo editors, photographers, and you liked best.

Photograph by Ketan Khambhatta ( @ketankhambhatta)
Photograph by Ketan Khambhatta ( @ketankhambhatta)

To celebrate reaching 100 million followers on Instagram, National Geographic hosted a photo contest using the #natgeo100contest hashtag. The top 10 finalists will be given photo books signed by National Geographic photographers and have their winning images posted to @NatGeo throughout the next week. The grand prize winner will also receive a Nat Geo photo safari to Tanzania.

During the 24 hours the contest was open, more than 94,000 photographs were submitted. Nat Geo photo editors and photographers narrowed the entries to the top 10 photographs. Those images were then put to a vote for our 100 million followers on @NatGeo to decide our grand prize winner.

Here is our grand prize photographer, along with the finalists and commentary from our contributing photographers.

Grand prize winner

Photographer Ketan Khambhatta's image of zebras and wildebeest in the Maasai Mara National Reserve won the grand prize. "The image is so dynamic, with a powerful depth that keeps me looking. A moment well captured," said National Geographic photographer Muhammed Muheisen of Khambhatta's photo.

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In the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, zebras search for crocodiles while wildebeest run across the river.

Photographer Muhammed Muheisen: The image is so dynamic, with a powerful depth that keeps me looking. A moment well captured.


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National Park Ranger Matthieu Shamavu embraces Matabishi, an orphaned juvenile mountain gorilla, at the Senkwekwe Center, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Senkwekwe is the only rehabilitation center for mountain gorillas in the world.

Photographer Ami Vitale: The image is sublime because we immediately understand that it's a metaphor for unspeakable brutality but also great tenderness. This image illustrates our complex bond with the natural world.

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Whale sharks have personalities. This one was bold and curious, approaching the boat anytime we came near. Whale sharks are huge, so large they resemble living reefs. No other terrestrial animal can match their size, power, and grace.

Photographer Cristina Mittermeier: I have done a lot of swimming with whale sharks, and you never get to see an absolutely beautiful moment like this that exemplifies the abundance of healthy oceans.

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A pair of lambs stare out a car window at a livestock market in Marneuli, Georgia.

Photographer David Guttenfelder: This photograph wasn’t made in the wild, yet the picture, in one moment, tells the seemingly bittersweet story of the young lambs.

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Galahs, a species of cockatoo, scour the parched Outback for water in Western Australia. Here, waterholes are the vital source of life.

Photographer Wayne Lawrence: Of all of the images of wildlife, this one seems less clichéd and stood out because of the masterly use of color and composition.

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On a day when the sea was unusually rough and the undertow dangerously strong, bathers on Ipanema beach, in Rio de Janeiro, appear hesitant to take the plunge.

Photographer Michaela Skovranova: A surreal scene—this image highlights an eclectic mix of light, human impact, and the power of the environment. It’s as if the heat of the Earth and the humans is radiating off the sand, creating their own micro climate.

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Great Egrets appear serene and still in wetlands, but they are also vicious hunters, who eat anything they can catch—including this bullfrog, who appears to be fighting hard for survival.

Photographer Cory Richards: This moment is so bizarre and confusing that I had to zoom in to make sure another animal’s foot wasn’t sticking straight out of the water to block the distressed frog from certain death.

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Families glide on an ice rink in Brooklyn, New York’s Prospect Park on an unseasonably warm January day.

Photographer Maggie Steber: This photograph of skaters large and small somehow reminds me of a memory from childhood. The way the pristine light shoots across the ice creating long shadows feels symbolic of how we have to stay the challenging course of raising our children, always being there to catch them if they fall.

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A summer thunderstorm rolls over the Grand Canyon. This image is a combination of three consecutive long exposure photos of the storm.

Photographer Charlie Hamilton James: This is an exceptional image of lightning striking the Grand Canyon. It is muddy, dramatic and demonstrates excellent technical ability.

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This image depicts the frantic momentum of wildebeest crossing the Mara River in Tanzania.

Photographer Tasneem Alsultan: I enjoy photos that aren't that obvious. Is it wasps of hair? Or shards of wood? The mass of horns rushing my way seem lethal, and yet the photographer made us see the image from an artistic view.