Photographers submitted spectacular nature scenes, stunning city views, and touching images of people from around the world to Nat Geo Travel for the chance to be named the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year.

Three judges—Anne Farrar, director of photography for Nat Geo Travel, and photographers Foster Huntington and Corey Arnold—were tasked with reviewing thousands of photographs to find one image that stood above all others. “It was great working with Corey and Anne on the judging,” says Huntington. "Rarely do I get the opportunity to chat about photos with such talented and informed people and that was certainly a highlight of the process for me.”

What were the judges looking for? Farrar shares her insight: “I always look for moment, content, composition, and light to help evaluate an image for its strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes all four come together to make a good photograph awesome.” In the end, a stirring picture taken by Anthony Lau in Inner Mongolia in Saihanba National Forest Park won the judges' admiration and the grand prize. “I was so happy that out of the thousands of images people had entered from around the world that we had ended up with an exciting, vibrant image reflecting a photographer’s choice to get out of the car and make a great image,” says Farrar.

Learn more about the grand prize, a Polar Bear Safari for two with Churchill Wild and Wild-Seal Heritage Lodge.

Find out how the grand prize photo was made. Read the full Q&A with Anthony Lau.

Want to see all the winners? Visit natgeo.com/travelphotocontest and share your favorites.

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