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2013 Student Photo Contest Winners

We asked high school students to submit a photograph and descriptive caption that conveys a sense of exploration or adventure, and nearly 2,500 entries flooded in. The images and descriptions we received tell a rich story of exploration through the eyes and lenses of high school students across the country. And the subjects spanned the globe—as close as the backyard, and as far-flung as Peru and New Zealand.

Our panel of judges, made up of National Geographic's top photographers and photo editors, had the challenging task of evaluating the top entries and selecting the winning image and the two runners-up. Our grand-prize winner traveled to London to participate in the National Geographic Student Expeditions London Photography Workshop. We congratulate each of our winners and finalists on their outstanding work! Take a look at the winning photos and our gallery of finalists below.

Grand Prize Winner

No Boundaries

Photo and description by Lijah Hanley

There is nothing more thrilling than taking the car out on the road and exploring new places. Unfortunately, being a new driver, my parents have set a lot of boundaries that limit how far I can go. I made it as far as the Columbia River Gorge, and it was a perfect crisp clear night for stargazing. So we removed the top of our car, sat on the roof, and gazed into the endless universe. Exploration is not bound by how far your car can take you, but by how far your imagination can take you into the stars.

Photo Location: The Columbia River Gorge, Washington

Second Place Winner


Photo and description by Julianna Brown

Although surfing in these cold Pacific waters is a daily occurrence for them, the moments spent preparing remained quiet and introspective as the setting sun reflected off of the ocean. The sense of anticipation and slight anxiety was tangible, for no matter how often a practice, heading into the turbulent waters of Northern Peru will always remain an adventure.

Photo Location: Huanchaco, Peru

Third Place Winner

The Freedom Side

Photo and description by Emily Watson

There is something liberating about wind blowing through your hair. Buddy has knowledge of this simple fact and embraced it one afternoon on the car ride home. Although it was a constrained freedom that only his head could experience, he made the most of his adventure.

Photo Location: Norman, OK

More about National Geographic Student Expeditions

Get into the field this summer on one of our Expeditions, Field Workshops, Photo Workshops, or Community Service trips. Select a destination that captures your imagination. National Geographic offers student travel programs around the world that aim to inspire and educate high school students.

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Your participation in a National Geographic Student Expedition provides support to National Geographic's mission of increasing global understanding through exploration, geography education, and research.
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