These Are the Stunning Finalists from's 2017 Photo Contest

Beautiful photography has the power to show you the world without you even having to leave your room. The stunning finalists of's 2017 photo content will likely do just that.

And the Category Is...

For the 15th annual photo contest, the publication asked photographers to submit photos in any of the six categories:

Natural World: "Animals, plants and landscapes; geological or climatological features; and scientific processes and endeavors."

The American Experience: "Events, objects or activities connecting the American people to their history or their cultural heritage; photographs that tell us what it means to be an American and provide a sense of what it is like to live in this country."

Travel: "Locales, peoples or activities in the United States and abroad that convey a sense of place."

People: "Portraits and photos of groups or individuals."

Altered Images: "Photographs manipulated for artistic purposes by applying digital and/or traditional special effects (i.e., colorizing, toning, collage, photo composites, HDR, etc.)."

Mobile: "Any photograph taken with a mobile device (phone or tablet)."

This year saw a whopping 48,000 submissions across all the categories from people in 155 countries and territories. On March 1, 2018, Smithsonian magazine released the 60 final contenders, and anyone can vote for their favorite photo to win Readers' Choice. The winner of the Readers' Choice award will win $500, the same prize awarded to the winner in each category. The Grand Prize winner will take home $2,500. Check out some of the finalist photos below, and vote for your Readers' Choice pick before March 27, 2018 over at (you can vote once per day).

Natural World

Pinnacle of Existence
Sardines in the Sun
Lion's Mane Jellyfish

The American Experience

After a Long Day
My Post-Irma Street
Split Screen


Umbrella Market
Red Chili Pepper Pickers
Leather Drying in Dhaka


Feliz Navidad
A Belgian Angel

Altered Images

Rhino From Chitwan
Salt Field Workers
Life Directions


Beat the Heat
A Perfect Flutter

Inspired? Get a whole book of incredible nature photography with Annie Griffiths' "National Geographic Simply Beautiful Photographs (National Geographic Collectors Series)." We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase through that link, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto March 14, 2018