On December 13th, 2015, Sergio Tapiro Velasco was relaxing in the town of Comala in Mexico.
Luckily for him, he had his camera.
After seeing incandescence above the 12,533-foot Volcán de Fuego, Velasco pulled out his Canon and was able to snap the moment the erupting volcano was hit by a bolt of lightning. Thing is, it all happened so fast that he had no idea if he’d actually captured the dramatic event.
But capture he did, and that photo — “The Power of Nature” — just earned Velasco the title of 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year and also won him tops honors in the “Nature” category as well as scored him a 10-day trip for two to Galápagos and $2,500 in cash.
Selected from over 15,000 entries from participants in more than 30 countries, Velascos' entry was joined by winners Norbert Fritz of Hungary (who won the “Cities” category for “Levels of Reading”) and F. Dilek Uyar of Turkey (who won the “People” category with “Worship”).
Below, you’ll find the winning photo, the runner-up and the people’s choice for each category.
Nature (3 images)
Cities (3 images)
People (3 images)