Traveler‘s epic end-of-year “Best of the World” issue—which highlights 20 must-see places to visit in 2016—features a photograph taken by Your Shot member Victor Lima, who joined Nat Geo’s photo community just this year.
The long-exposure image of Salto Corumbá, a breathtaking waterfall located near the geographic center of Brazil, represents the first-ever member-submitted cover in National Geographic history.
“This looks like a magical place and it works perfectly in a vertical composition,” commented Traveler editor in chief Maggie Zackowitz, “especially with the three tiny figures in the foreground to lend a sense of scale.”
Lima’s winning photograph was one of more than 34,000 entries submitted to a Your Shot assignment calling on members to share photos of their “best place” to correspond with Traveler‘s flagship feature.
I caught up with Victor, who is based in Brasília, to find out why he thinks Salto Corumbá is the “best of the world,” get the scoop on his favorite places to visit in his native Brazil, and see if he had any advice for other aspiring photographers out there who dream of seeing their work on the pages of a National Geographic magazine.
Here’s what he had to say:
Leslie Trew Magraw: What makes the waterfall seen in your winning photograph, Salto Corumbá, so special?
Victor Lima: Salto Corumbá is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, found 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Brasília. It’s a magical thing to get so close to a waterfall this tall (approximately 225 feet) and swim at its feet.
Though surrounded by forest, Salto Corumbá has everything a visitor might want, including restaurants, bars, seven waterfalls (all accessible), cave rivers, horse and hiking trails, water slides, swimming pools, a children’s water park, and opportunities for outdoor adventure sports like abseiling, zip lining, and rafting.
Most foreigners that travel to Brazil go to Rio de Janeiro or the rain forests of the northeast. Why do you think travelers should visit Brasília and the highlands that surround it?
Brasília is a city ahead of its time, a monument in the open. Having existed for only 55 years, it is already a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city has an intense night life and cultural and natural resources in abundance, such as waterfalls, caves, and lakes.
Located in the central plateau region of Brazil, Brasília also affords easy access to several destinations worth visiting, including:
- Pirenópolis, an adventure-lover’s dream known for its waterfalls and colonial architecture;
- Caldas Novas, one of the largest hydrothermal resort in the world; and
- Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, a national park that protects a vital swath of the biodiverse Cerrado—Brazil’s vast tropical savanna—and is yet another of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
I understand you’ve only been studying photography for about a year. Impressive! Do you have any advice for aspiring photographers out there?
I bought my first camera in November 2014, when I took a trip with my fiancée to Spain, and began to study photography [in earnest] only in January.
The best tips I can give to anyone interested in pursuing photography are:
- Study hard about light and composition, and try to make your photo speak for itself without relying on captions or subtitles.
- The last thing you should worry about is having professional-grade equipment. Focus on learning photographic techniques before investing in gear.
- Photography is about being in the right place at the right time. Planning helps a lot.
What made you submit this image to the Your Shot “Best of the World” photo assignment?
It’s my favorite photograph, [and that’s] because it was my first great photograph.
Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014 and will be the host country for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Has the attention been good for your country? How has it changed?
Being selected to host major competitions like the World Cup and the Olympics is wonderful for any country, and no different for Brazil.
Brazil has a fantastic potential for tourism, but it also has serious infrastructure problems. Being in the spotlight has pushed the government to make large investments in the country’s infrastructure, which have helped Brazil’s major cities become better equipped to welcome tourists.
Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world. What are the top ten places you’ve visited so far, besides your hometown?
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