The 9 Photos That Won the 2015 Smithsonian Photo Contest

The Smithsonian magazine has just announced the winners of its annual photo contest. Now in its 13th year, the contest aims to recognise the most striking and memorable shots submitted. This year, over 46,000 submissions from photographers in 168 different countries were whittled down to just nine winners.

The image above, Remaining on the Slopes of Mount Sinabung, is the grand prize winner. It was taken by Indonesian photographer Albert Ivan Damanik with his Canon EOS 7D.

“Volcanic material flows from Mount Sinabung, as seen from the village of Jeraya, North Sumatra, Indonesia on June 26, 2015. Mount Sinabung intermittently spewed burning ash and gas a week after authorities told residents to evacuate the danger zone that lay with within a radius of seven kilometers (4.4 miles) from the crater.”

Here are the winning images in the contest’s other categories.

Reader’s Choice

Orient Express by Alice Van Kempen—Rockanje, Netherlands

“My bull terrier Claire photographed in an abandoned train, one of a series that I am currently working on. The series is called ‘Leave Only Pawprints: Urbex Adventures With My Bull Terrier Claire’.

“Alteration note: This image is HDR and composed of three different images.”


Orient Express by Alice Van Kempen—Nikon D800

The American Experience

Trucker Chapel by Lauren Pond—Ohio, United States

“Truck driver Ben Blackburn, 46, participates in a Bible study session at the Transport For Christ (TFC) mobile chapel in Lodi, Ohio, on October 23, 2013. TFC chaplains helped Blackburn enroll in trucking school after he lost his job during the recent economic recession.”


Trucker Chapel by Lauren Pond—no camera information

Natural World

A Little Monkey on a Cliff by Hidetoshi Ogata—Osaka, Japan

“A cold front hit the Nagano prefecture. I saw a little monkey enduring the cold in Jigokudani Monkey Park. This little monkey is really cute.”


A Little Monkey on a Cliff by Hidetoshi Ogata—Canon EOS 5D Mark III


Women’s Compartment of a Suburban Train by Tamina-Florentine Zuch—Hamburg, Germany

“Every day millions of people make use of the suburban trains in Mumbai. Almost every train has separate compartments for women to avoid sexual abuse.”


Women’s Compartment of a Suburban Train by Tamina-Florentine Zuch—Nikon D800

Sustainable Travel

My Time by Tihomir Trichkov—North Carolina, United States

“In February and March of 2014, I took a month off and went to work as a photographer/videographer in an orphan school in Likoni, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Mombasa, Kenya. My videos and pictures helped raise money to finish the building of the school for 150 children and a sleeping building for 30 orphan kids. This is the school director’s daughter on her break, while at school.”


My Time by Tihomir Trichkov—Sony Alpha SLT-A77V


Lay Off by Benedetta Ristori—Rome, Italy

“This picture was taken in Kyoto, Japan in January 2015. There is no fiction, the photo was caught while I was wandering in the streets of Kyoto. My intent was to capture the life of night workers. Shift work, even at night and on holidays, often affects workers psychophysically. The requirements imposed by the ‘society of work’ do not recognize the natural alternations of day and night and workers’ biological clocks.”


Lay Off by Benedetta Ristori—Nikon D800

Altered Images

Synchronous Fireflies by Radim Schreiber—Iowa, United States

“I took this photo of fireflies (lightning bugs) in almost complete darkness using the latest low-light camera technology. I was completely surrounded by the fireflies and witnessed one of the most amazing and magical natural phenomena: fireflies that synchronize.

“Alteration note: I took several long exposures over several minutes and merged them together to preserve detail and clarity.”


Synchronous Fireflies by Radim Schreiber—Canon EOS 6D


The China Red by Jian Wang—Beijing, China

“In front of this Chinese red wall walks a lady in a red dress.”


The China Red by Jian Wang—645 PRO Mk III for Apple iPhone 6 Plus

The 2016 contest is now open for submissions, submit your photos to the 14th annual photo contest here.