Let’s face it, 2020 has not been a great year for travel. Conversely, it’s probably a terrific year for looking at travel photos and getting your wanderlust on. Mobile app Agora’s users have spoken, and some 13,685 photos have been whittled down to a precious few, including the “World’s Best Travel Photo” for 2020.
Being a mobile app, the vast preponderance of entries are shot in portrait orientation, and from the selection we’ve been given, a formula definitely emerges. Take one glorious vista, add dramatic lighting, shoot wide. Add at least one twenty-something social media influencer, facing away from the camera and off a cliff if possible. Extra points if you make them tiny in the frame, and a bonus multiplier if you silhouette them against a vast landscape. The viewer, one assumes, takes the position of the tiny figure in the frame and feels, for a moment, the scale and majesty of the location, unsullied by any less picturesque details that have been cropped out. And it clearly works.
Of the photo above, photographer @jprphotos said, “We had been traveling around the Western States for around a week prior to this, and the one thing that amazed us the most was simply how massive these natural rock formations were. Whilst we were at Green River we saw this ledge jutting out of the rock and my friend sent it giving us a perfect subject to give our images a sense of scale. The lighting and detail in the landscape below just finished off what is probably my favorite image from the whole trip!”
Here’s a similar approach applied to a famous landmark, in this case the Taj Mahal. Dutch photographer @globetravelphotography managed to find a way to dodge or edit out the heaving crowds at India’s best-known landmark and submitted this image, saying, “My girlfriend modeled for me in a traditional Indian Sari, in the mosque on the side of the Taj Mahal. In this photo, I want to transmit people the good vibe of traveling. Travelbugs like me will be happy to see a shot like that and probably feel the urge to see these incredible places by themselves.”
The winning photo this year, though, goes back to another selfie tradition: a pair of crossed outstretched legs. In this case, they belong to Spanish photographer @rakia10, and they’re poking out of a tent door pointed at the majestic Italian Dolomites with a dog snuggled up next to them. The prize this year: a flat US$1,000.
“I had been wanting to experience this sunset and spend the night in Seceda for a long time,” said @rakia10. “I had been dreaming of that magical moment for years. I never miss an adventure with my dog Berky. We tried to climb Seceda during our previous trip to the Dolomites, but it was closed. I had seen pictures in tents but none of them had the frame that I was envisioning, and now I understand why: the cliff was only a few meters away and it was very impressive.”
We’ve assembled our favorites from the 2020 Agora #Travel2020 awards in the gallery. Enjoy, and let’s hope it’s not too long before the world opens back up for travel again.