Competition

Jaw-dropping photos: Winners and top 50 in the #ExploreWithNatGeo contest

National Geographic, Samsung and the Sunday Times challenged amateur photographers to find the 'Epic in the Every Day' and they certainly delivered

25 April 2021 - 00:02
Lara Roussouw's shot titled 'Living on the edge' earned her first prize in the 2021 #ExploreWithNatGeo photo contest.
Lara Roussouw's shot titled 'Living on the edge' earned her first prize in the 2021 #ExploreWithNatGeo photo contest.
Image: Lara Roussouw

A lazing lizard, a smaller grasshopper clinging to a larger one, and the touching of two hands illustrate the imagination and talent of the three winners of the #ExploreWithNatGeo Photo Competition, which challenged entrants to find the "Epic in the Every Day".

The winners are:

  • Lara Roussouw from Bloemfontein, who won first place with her photo of a lizard facing the Augrabies Falls in the Northern Cape;
  • Cynthia Mokgoebo from Polokwane, who shone in second place with her photo of the grasshoppers among leaves near her home; and
  • Karishma Rajcomar from Durban, who earned third place with a photo of her
    91-year-old grandmother's hand resting on top of hers.

The National Geographic #ExploreWithNatGeo Photo Competition 2021, brought to you by Samsung Galaxy S21 5G in collaboration with the Sunday Times, attracted more than 1,200 entries, said Samira Gerin-Singh, who heads up marketing for National Geographic, FOX, ESPN and Disney networks in Africa.

"We wanted a very different perspective of the world and the winners' interpretation of the theme embodied that," she said.

The three winners of the competition for amateur shooters sounded exuberant on the phone as they described what inspired them.

Roussouw, who runs a PR company called the Spotted Apple, shot her image in February this year, on her first trip "anywhere since lockdown" with her boyfriend.

"I loved the look of the lizard, as if it were appreciating the view of the Augrabies Falls from the viewing deck," she said. In their two-week trip to the falls and the Kgalagadi National Park, Roussouw was motivated to take photos for the competition.

Cynthia Mokgoebo came second in the 2021 #ExploreWithNatGeo photo contest with this shot titled 'Sharing a moment'.
Cynthia Mokgoebo came second in the 2021 #ExploreWithNatGeo photo contest with this shot titled 'Sharing a moment'.
Image: Cynthia Mokgoebo

Mokgoeba, on other hand, captured the pair of grasshoppers while on a sunset walk from home to a nearby lake. They caught her eye and, overcoming her fears, she went in close for the best perspective.

"I'm really scared of insects and hoped it would not hop at me," says the psychology graduate, who's currently tutoring children.

"I'm absolutely shocked and absolutely delighted," she said of her success, adding that she loves to take photos of nature including sunsets, flowers and insects.

Rajcomar took a photo to celebrate the enduring strength of her 91-year-old grandmother, who insists on living independently even though she has six devoted children, 16 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and a single great-great- grandchild.

The mother of a 10-year-old girl, who is "obsessed with taking photos" and a three-year-old boy, freelance graphic designer Rajcomar said her Hands of a Wonder Woman symbolised her extremely close bond with her grandmother "who is epic in every way".

Karishma Rajcomar earned third place in the #ExploreWithNatGeo photo contest with this snap titled 'The power of touch'.
Karishma Rajcomar earned third place in the #ExploreWithNatGeo photo contest with this snap titled 'The power of touch'.
Image: Karishma Rajcomar

A panel of judges narrowed down the entries to their top 50 and handed them over to the judge, acclaimed Johannesburg photographer Gulshan Khan.

Khan said of her selection: "To be moved by an image is a wonderful thing that connects us, really, be it in the emotion and energy conveyed or the thoughts and minds that it shifts.

"Sometimes it is a lizard enigmatically on the edge of the ledge, watching over the vista - human-like ... other times it's the power of touch and closeness.

"Placing us in this moment and the themes of mortality, life, birth, ageing and the natural order of things, these images have moved me and shown the power of the language of photography.

"Well done to everyone!"

Check out these stunning snaps that made the top 50 of the #ExploreWithNatGeo photo contest: