A photo of a Kazakh girl wins 1st prize of National Geographic contest

A photo portrait of a Kazakh girl from Mongolia won the 1st place of the National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest 2018.

“Tea Culture” photograph depicting the Kazakh girl Damel drinking team captured by Alessandra Meniconzi from Switzerland was named the best in ‘People’ category.

“For a long time, I have been fascinated by the ancient Mongolian method of hunting with Golden Eagle,” Alessandra Meniconzi says. “In early 2018, I followed one family of eagle hunters during their migration from winter camp to spring camp. Mongolia is sparsely populated, but the inhabitants have a very hospitable and welcoming culture. Tea for Kazakh culture is one of the attributes of hospitality. Tea isn’t just a drink, but a mix of tradition, culture, relaxation, ceremony, and pleasure. Damel, seen here wrapped in heavy fur clothes, drinks a cup of tea to keep warm from the chilly temperatures in Western Mongolia”.

Photographer Reiko Takahashi won the grand prix of the contest for “Mermaid” photograph. He says he was fortunate to have encountered a humpback whale with her calf on his first day snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island. “Most of the time, the calf stayed close to her mom. At one point, the calf began jumping and tapping its tail on the water near us-it was very friendly and curious. Finally, the mother, who was watching nearby, came to pick up the calf and swim away. I fell in love completely with the calf and it’s very energetic, large, and beautiful tail,” he adds.