Existing Member?

Travel Scholarships - Travel. Experience. Contribute.

Travel Photography Scholarship 2012 - The Winner!

OMAN | Monday, 4 February 2013 | Views [32313] | Comments [44]

Photo by Jake Salyers

We have to admit, each year you all make our job just a little bit harder – and this year, you blew the judges away - out of their chairs and across the world on your photographic journeys.

Not only did you manage to double the amount of entries from last year, but the quality, scope of diversity and depth of story of your entries was truly phenomenal.

The pool of talent and creativity that you bring to the Travel Photography Scholarship inspires us to keep creating these experiences and continually build the program.

On behalf of World Nomads and National Geographic Channel we would like to thank you all for sharing the world through your lenses.

Announcing the winner of the 2012 Travel Photography Scholarship....

1st Place - The Spaza Life

Jake Salyers (USA)

Congratulations Jake on your wonderful series The Spaza Life! Jakes images simply yet beautifully capture the essence of life of a small community caught between the desires for the trappings of the 21st century and the struggle of everyday life in an impoverished community. Using natural light to its best advantage and letting the moment speak for and of itself were key to the success of Jake’s images.

Jake, you will be joining Jason Edwards on assignment in Oman next month to find out what life is really like for a Nat Geo photographer in the field!

UPDATE! Read Jake's blog and check out his photos on assignment in Oman.


2nd Place - Njut Lagom! Secret way of being Swedish.

Gunta Podina (Sweden)

I loved Gunta’s series on Sweden and her interesting interpretation of Lagom within Sweden. Beautifully composed and transparent in their content they made me feel like I was on the journey with her. I felt a little awkward as if invading a private place but also curious and enlightened by the references to Swedish culture.

3rd Place - Burning of the King Boat

Pascal Fiechter (Taiwan)

Pascal’s images of a traditional boat burning ceremony have a strong reportage flavor that cemented the dry heat and obvious religious significance to the local community in place. Harsh, washed-out light left as it was and not abused in postproduction, great stuff! Good use of an obviously flat and two-dimensional scene.

4th Place - My Beautiful Laundrette

Maggie McKay (Australia)

Countless times in presentations I’ve suggested people should shoot stories locally “even their Laundromat”! Maggie managed this and very successfully, well done! I thoroughly enjoyed this essay and how it can be related to by almost anybody. Great composition just screaming, “This is a place I have visited!”


The Shortlist (in alphabetical order)

Adam Gillespie (USA) – Two Years in Iraq

Belinda Scott (Australia) – Power of the Huayhuash

Ben Hogarth (Australia) – Living with the Suri Tribe

Bogdan Comansecu (Romania) – Ancient Crafts in Transylvania

Brett Star (Australia) – A View of the City Jakarta

Catherine Lara (USA) – enVision

Charlene Winfred (Australia) – International Indian Finals Rodeo

Franc Pallarès – The Nomads of Kham

Ivana Visilj (Croatia) – An Afternoon in Sarajevo

Jasmine Hoey (Australia) – As seen by me

Marcelo Quiñones (Mexico) –  Tarahumaras

Mary Ann Macatigbac (UAE) – A Life of Fishing

Matt Paish (UK) – Children of Pyongyang

Nicolas Grundy (Australia) - Mueller Hut, New Zealand

Patrick Roy (Canada) – The art of Kushti wrestling

Ralph Emil Espada (Philippines) – Wawa Dam

Robert Brienza (New Zealand) – The Locals of Muriwai

Shu Yeung (Australia) – Sydney University Gymnastics Club

Simon Ward (UK) – The streets of Istanbul

Suzie Colledge (UK) – Meeting Lillian Murphy

Thomas Brown (Australia) – Sight & Soundless

Troels Kølln (Denmark) - Guatemala

Victoria Bergallo (Argentina) – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Final Thoughts from Jason Edwards

I am exhausted! We had a record number of entries and my thanks go out to the judging panel for their enormous efforts in selecting the broad range of finalists for me to examine and pull apart. Likewise, I also judged a larger number of entries in parallel with the increased size of our event.  

My first thought and this has become an annual occurrence, is how I wish I could take many people with me. This is the bittersweet irony of the Scholarship and my heart breaks for those entries that must be culled as the judging process progresses. If it is any consolation the passion that goes into your work does not go unnoticed.

It is truly inspiring to see how determined people are to do positive things in the world with their photography and how much it means to them. It is also humbling that so many people wish to share my experiences and knowledge, thank you! I have commented over the years that we have formed quite literally, a community of photography lovers and this year our community grew again. The support everyone showed for the entrants was wonderful and I’m heartened by the genuine praise people offer to other photographers all with varying levels of skill and experience.

So here are a few thoughts from this year’s judging. There was a far greater diversity in subject matter and locations and the story telling was more honed. The captions were better but for many this still let them down. As I’d previously posted “I love this shot!” Is not a caption it’s an opinion, especially when it’s about your own work!” Also, a Title is not a caption, it’s a Title!

The essay still seems to confuse many people even some of those who were selected for final judging. Never use your 1200 character essay to post links to your other images; you are being judged on the ones that you submitted! Read the guidelines and what I am asking for. Seriously, it’s about YOU so that should be easy, but also about what you hope to gain from the overall experience and from me. 

As in past years the use of postproduction techniques killed many submissions. Some people overly treated every image, others just one or two. This is the one competition on the planet where your ability with a computer will not guarantee you success. Don’t use post-production pre-sets to make your images look like they were shot on film, go out and SHOOT ON FILM! Just because someone made it to the final round does not mean the level of treatment was acceptable only that I marked them down for it when I took over the judging.

This is a learning scholarship, a chance for an amateur photographer to learn new skills and build on existing ones. It’s not an opportunity for professional photographers to get more kudus when their sales are down. That sounds brutal and it is. I’m desperate to find the right person who will get the most out of my time and learn from me whilst I create material for a variety of National Geographic divisions. I’m working; it’s not about me standing there whilst you shoot a story! Finalists were removed from contention if we deemed them to be professional or if we felt they would not benefit in the way we hoped from the Scholarship. Winning the Scholarship is not simply a matter of selecting the best imagery but in finding the individual we felt would benefit the most from time spent with me.

In closing, congratulations to everyone that took the time to produce a portfolio and enter. This in itself is a great exercise and strengthens your photographic ability in ways you may not realise. Thank you for your ongoing support and contributions they are genuinely appreciated.

Please remember, what is most important about your images is what you capture at the time, not what you do in postproduction. Enjoy your photography as a creative expression of who you are and your place in the world. I hope to see you all again for the next Scholarship!

Best Wishes

Jason Edwards

Travel. Learn. Create.

For all of you aspiring creatives, check out our Scholarships page and sign up to hear about our latest opportunities, tips, advice and interviews with industry professionals in the fields of photography, travel writing and filmmaking.

And if you're lucky enough to be mentored by one of our industry professionals, it could kick start your career!

About WorldNomads.com

WorldNomads.com keeps you travelling safely.  Whether you’re off for a long weekend, looking for the ultimate adventure or living the nomadic dream, you’ll stay safe with Travel Insurance you can buy online, anytime, and the latest travel safety advice. Learn how to flirt in over 25 languages with our free language guides and have an experience of a lifetime on a travel scholarship. We'll also help you share your journey with a free travel blog, get answers from other nomads to all of your travel questions (try the new 'Ask A Nomad' iPad app) and donate to a local community development project through our Footprints program.  

WorldNomads.com - an essential part of every adventurous traveller's journey.




Congrats to Jake and other short listed artists!
It was a great experience to go through these entries and selection.

Thanks Jason.

  Manikandan AV Feb 4, 2013 5:32 PM


Congratulations Jake on a very emotive set which suits the b and w treatment perfectly. Lovely also to see someone winning with a black and white set! I especially like the men stood in the doorway. Well done also to everyone else in the short list and for the judges burning the midnight oil to get judging done. Laura x

  Laura Feb 4, 2013 5:38 PM


It's great to see someone from the Philippines to be in the shortlist. Congrats, Ralph Emil Espada!

Thank you Jason for this scholarship. The entire process was a wonderful learning experience.

  kurtzky Feb 4, 2013 5:50 PM


Congratulation Jake and all the winners :)

  muthe Feb 4, 2013 6:13 PM


congrats jake and all runners up and the short listed too :) and good luck for the participants next year , god bless you all , peace :)

  maryam Feb 4, 2013 6:49 PM


Congratulations to the winner and everyone mentioned.. As for everyone else much like myself, pick urself up, book another flight and get shooting... Gutted :(

  Si guy Feb 4, 2013 6:56 PM


Hi and congrats to winners... I worked hard for this scholarship and almost been sure I would be selected ! anyway, good luck for everyone who have been selected ... I wish I had a chance to have Jason comments about my photographs... hope 4 next time :)

  komeil Feb 4, 2013 7:48 PM


congratulations everyone.... I enjoyed the journey with you all....

  Dr Valerie Feb 4, 2013 8:44 PM


Congrats to Jake & everyone on the short list...... Hello Jason, I know you would have hundreds of people asking you about feed back, but I would be stoked if you could spare a minute and email your thoughts on my series of images "Life in Manila" are they up to International Standards ?

  Shane Lawlor Feb 4, 2013 9:01 PM


Congratulations to Jake, and the runners up. I hope you get a lot out of your experience.

  Margaret Bending Feb 4, 2013 9:11 PM


Congratulations to Jake, have a good time traveling :)

  borisj Feb 4, 2013 10:13 PM


Congratulation Jake and all the winners :) wish you all the best
just want to ask is there any possibility to have just like this scholarship even with 50% fund someday :)
thnx alot

  Hanan Hosny Feb 4, 2013 10:22 PM


Congrats Jake! Deserved winner - fantastic photos!

  Nirosha Feb 4, 2013 11:03 PM


Congratulations to Jake, Gunta, Pascal, Maggie, and the other finalists. Thank you Jason and WorldNomads for putting on this contest and giving it so much time. I learned more about captioning and story telling than I thought I could from a contest, just by preparing my entry and looking at other entries

Enjoy Oman

  kayakphotographer Feb 4, 2013 11:35 PM


Congratulations to Jake, the Shortlisted, and the other participants! Just wanted to leave a brief comment/ question to Jason. As you stated you do give great value to the Captions of each photo. I was very much surprised to see that all of the first 4 participants had full descriptions and stories contextualizing their photos. Well, when I submitted my photos I wasn't allowed to write more than a few words (one Line!!). It wasn't that i had nothing more to say...simply the journal, at the Time, wouldn't allow me to write more than that!!! Why it happened I can not say, but I am sure I wasn't the only one. I don't think it's fair, and hope you can correct this glitch of the submission proccess that may( or may not, it's not for me to say) throw people like me out of the competition!! Thanks

  pedropena Feb 5, 2013 12:46 AM


A completely worth winner... Congratulations Jake and to all the runners up and shortlistees.

I wasn't shortlisted this year but I will certainly be working on my photography and entering in the next competition. I still hold hope to be mentored by Jason one day :-)

  Russ Francis Feb 5, 2013 2:50 AM


congratulations!! and thank you for this wonderful experience, it's an amazing milestone and lesson that I still need to learn more :) cheers xx (big thanks to Jason, Alicia who patiently replying applicants questions and more important, guide us!)

  Hanna. N Feb 5, 2013 4:11 AM


If this is a amateur photographer contest, why does Jason markets himself as a professional photographer and filmaker in his page? To me it looks he is more professional than amateur. http://www.jakesalyers.com/


  Cat33 Feb 5, 2013 4:42 AM


I'm guessing Jason likes a smoke, and had some good stuff when he was doing the juding. Maybe he wants Jake to put him in touch with those boys in the photos :P

  Asi Feb 5, 2013 5:55 AM


Congrats to the winners!!
But I'd like to say that I personally don't like the final selection at all... For example, just having a look around I found this two folders that should be as well:
and only having a small look around! I'm sure there should be more!!

  James Feb 5, 2013 8:39 AM


Hi Everyone,

We really appreciate the kind words for the winner and the shortlisted entries!

Cat33, just to clarify, Jake is actually still a university student.


  scholarships Feb 5, 2013 9:34 AM


So because someone is still in school ( it looks like there was a graduation already), it means that the person is not a professional? I think the definition of professional is along the lines of being able to earn your income from your own work. He has awesome photos. But I just remember reading the guidelines and that is what it said.

  Cat33 Feb 5, 2013 10:05 AM


Congratulations Jake, great photos, they stir the senses. Great choice Jason. ila-liqaa (until we meet again).

Warm regards

  begona Feb 5, 2013 10:13 AM


I'm sorry, but I agree with Cat33 on this one... after looking at the chaps website it clearly states that he is working and shooting and filming. Rules are rules and I have even held off on thoughts of starting to sell photography on my website so I dont break the "Rules".

Bit disappointed in that!!

  Anon Feb 5, 2013 11:12 AM


Cat33... Your post is absolutely relevant!! It's incredible how they even wanted to clarify that he is still a student!! Jason states as follows on his final comments to the contest : "It’s not an opportunity for professional photographers to get more kudus when their sales are down. That sounds brutal and it is." The winner works exactly as a photographer since 2010, as stated by himself! The rules aren't the same for everyone! So for me the Brutal part is that the rules aren't the same for everyone!

  Pedro Pena Feb 5, 2013 11:12 AM


Typical of most photo contests the rules don't have much meaning. the guy along with most of the short listed are pros. the contests invite all entries for marketing but really pick a winner based on their own ends and the the rules

  andythru Feb 5, 2013 11:19 AM


Wow, every year I apply, every year I miss out on the shortlist, but I'm getting better for every time I enter. What also happens every year is the constant complaints by people who don't get shortlisted. The winner is a uni student for craps sake! I tell people I'm professional to try and get work, yet I don't earn enough to support myself sadly. But hey, keep on complaining and keep being bitter that you didn't make the cut, stay jealous and see how far you get in life. Congrats to those shortlisted, congrats to Jason for keeping true to picking people who will get the most from the experience. To the complainers, just be supportive for once hey!

  Tony Glennon Feb 5, 2013 11:47 AM


As stated in LinkedIn:

Jake Salyers' Experience
Street Talk TV

April 2012 – Present (11 months) Cape Town, South Africa

Filmed and edited episodes of Street Talk TV.

Head Story Teller and Photographer
Creative Nonfiction Productions

January 2010 – Present (3 years 2 months)

Guys, I had all the support for this guy and thought him as an extremely worthy winner until this came about. I didnt even get through to the shortlist so this is not a moan about why I havent won but everyone deserves a (Fair) chance. If this guy is working as a full time photographer then this is in no way fair. In my situation I am unable to just give up my job as there is a mortgage to be paid, so you can appreciate it is harder for me to crack into this industry, as it must be for the thousands of other hopefuls entering this comp.

I hope you look into this carefully and make the right decision!!

  Anon Feb 5, 2013 11:54 AM


Dear Tony, if you see my first post, the first thing I did was congratulating everyone. Now don't come all "Mother Teresa" on us, for wanting the contest to be fair and to respect its own rules! You say he is a Uni student??? so how come in his presentation text he says: " I’ve spent the past few years living and working in Fiji and South Africa, attempting to embed myself within cultures very different from my own." Well, If so...I wish I studied at his Uni as well.

  Pedro Pena Feb 5, 2013 12:45 PM


Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your feedback and support both in the affirmative and in the negative.

Tony made a very valid point in that almost every photographer over-promotes himself or herself to try and get that next gig. It has become the industry standard and I am dumbfounded what claims people make on websites and in social media. I would never in my wildest dreams make the statements some photographers make, even at this point in my career, even as I continue to evolve as a photographer.

I judged 100 finalists this year and I can guarantee you when we started researching them we found amazing things! We do allow the entrants to make money from their photography just not more than 25% of their annual income from photography. We research and interview and rely on people's honesty to ascertain their suitability and that is all we can do.

A college student who owns one camera given to him by his parents is not a professional, and unless college has changed since I attended there is little time for running a full time photography business. I am very committed to creating a learning experience and not creating a junket for pros and there is no other event like this on the planet.

Is it difficult to ascertain someone's professional qualifications, yes, is it damn nigh impossible to disregard what claims people make about themselves and their careers, yes. I am looking for a person that I think will benefit the most from time spent with me in the field not just photographically but ethically as a photographer, and as a creative, an artist. The winner must have a certain level of skill otherwise they would struggle to keep up with my film crew, and myself creatively and technically. So we have a situation where you cannot have no knowledge and also not know everything otherwise what would be the point?

I do not donate my time and resources, staff and equipment to this event to insult people or insight vitriol but to mentor as many people as possible about how they shoot, how they edit and how they record the data from their photography. So many people get something from this event even if they do not win.

Again, I appreciate your feedback and support but please understand for as wonderful as this event is, it is complex and demanding operated by people with only the very best of intentions.



  Jason Feb 5, 2013 12:48 PM


100% correct Jason..... Jake was a worthy winner !!

  Shane Lawlor Feb 5, 2013 1:42 PM


Hi guys. First, well this message is really intended to Alicia which Jason told me to contact. I'm just really curious to know how many participants they were in total?

Just curious to know how well I placed myself. I am quite happy to have been shortlisted, and very lucky!! Of course a little disappointed and "jealous" of the first 3 winners, but that's just me wanting to go high up and wanting nothing else but to be the best I can possibly be.

As for some comments on here, one which captured my eye about most of the winners up being pros: well I can only talk for myself, but I sure ain't no pro! I just quit an 9-5 computer office job which I had been doing for over 14 years now. Sick of it! Picked up my first camera 2 years ago on a sabbatical and just dream high ;)

Guess I just try to be very persistent!! I can only hope to make it through... It's really what drives me and makes me shiver!! Kinda exploring myself out here right now to see if I'd be capable... It's all that matters to me right now!

Anyways, getting carried away and all passionate in my writing here. lol

Congrats to everyone!!


  ravenlost Feb 5, 2013 6:17 PM


Hi Pat,
We had just shy of 3,000 entries this year. So if you made the final 100 let alone the shortlist, you have done fantastically well. We have created this program to inspire people and create a money-cant-buy opportunity for someone. Keep the passion and have another go next year, when we hope to improve this still further.


  simon_monk Feb 5, 2013 11:30 PM


I have to say, I would have been gutted at having made the effort to work on a collection of images as good as someone like Pat's (ravenlost), only to have been beaten by a set which includes such cliche arty-farty shots such as an empty chair sat in the corner of a laundrette.
"This chair sees all who come in and out, and by the look of it, becomes intimate with many. The chair is weary, but also refelcts a peaceful calm. A perfect metaphor for complete...." pretentious drivel.

  Barker Feb 6, 2013 12:46 AM


I made the short list! Im over the moon with this result. I have only been shooting for 2 years and never dreamed of making the Final Cut! I am by no means a professional and have also held off selling some of my one off prints to interested patrons becuase of the rules of this competition. Jake takes amazing photo's and I beleive he deserves to win non the less. Thank you for giving us all an oportunity that we might not of been given anywhere else!

Quick Question, are we able to get a certificate or a conformation email to prove we had made the short list. Im quite proud of this acheivment and would like to be able to show my friends and family.

Looking forward to the next competition

Regard Tom

  outoffocusprod Feb 6, 2013 11:22 AM


I second's Tom question actually! Also... I guess having been shortlisted and all, knowing that I'm currently in process of enrolling into photojournalists school, I could use this in my "resume" if I will? :)

  ravenlost Feb 6, 2013 2:17 PM


Hi all,

Everyone who made the shortlist will receive a certificate from World Nomads & Nat Geo regarding this achievement. Emails to come.


  scholarships Feb 6, 2013 2:19 PM


Agree with andythru and Asi.

The motivations of a website is to drive traffic to it and they do this via opening the contest to all. The motivations of the publishers of the scholarships assignment is again for profit, this is self evident by the defense given. Smoke and mirrors up the asi. A proffessional was always going to win.

  big lens Feb 6, 2013 4:13 PM


I'm over the moon with this result as well! Very happy to have made the shortlist:) Big congrats to Jake and all the winners, amazing photos! I can't wait to see Jake's photos from Oman!

Many, many thanks to worldnomads.com for giving us this opportunity!


  Vicky Feb 6, 2013 4:24 PM


some really nice work in there, 4th Place entry was really impressive! Very well thought out piece that meet the brief so well, almost feel like your there waiting for your washing! Thanks for sharing

  Tom Akass Feb 8, 2013 9:55 PM


Just recently found out that I have been shortlisted. haha. I am really grateful that I made it to the shortlist from thousands of entries. Better late than never, Congratulations to Jason and the others too :)

  Ralph Emil Espada Feb 24, 2013 1:50 PM


Hi, Have the Certificates for the shortlisted finalists been mailed out. Im yet to recieve mine.

Please contact me outoffocusprod@hotmail.com.au

Thank you, Tom

  outoffocusprod Apr 16, 2013 3:40 PM


I don't think they have Tom. I just mailed Alicia asking about it also. Haven't received anything yet either...


  ravenlost Apr 27, 2013 3:46 AM


Congratulations...... Jake and all other winners.Have a fun.......I am also want to enjoy journey with you...Enjoy the journey.Best of luck...
Double color machine manufacturers

  Double color machine manufacturers May 25, 2013 4:45 PM

About scholarships

Where I've been

Photo Galleries


Near Misses

My trip journals



Travel Answers about Oman

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.