When we launched our photo competition in June, little did we realise just how much joy the entries would bring come a breezy and soggy September. But ‘joy’ is just the word. Not only did your children manage to capture stunning imagery (so much talent out there), but in doing so, reminded us yet again just how stunning the world we live in is.

Without further ado, we are delighted to announce the winners in our inaugural Stubborn Mule Travel Young Photographer Awards, as judged by Liddy Pleasants (Stubborn Mule founder), Joshua Ritchie (Stubborn Mule traveller, category winner of National Geographic Traveller Kids Photo Competition) and John Warburton-Lee (photography professional and image library owner).

Each category winner in both age groups receive £50, whilst the ultimate winner receives £150. We’ll also be sending some chocolate to the six runner-ups.

Best Cultural Photo

A broad topic, but one you ran with, submitting as you did everything from images of ruins, temples and architecture to portraits of local people to weird and wonderful culinary offerings from hawkers’ stalls. These, though, were chosen as the stand out winners. Whilst both depict local people, it was both the composition of the pictures as well as the fact that each image captured at-a-glance the very character of the countries in which they were taken.

Under 11s – Winner

Nun in convent, Sagaing - Young Photographer Awards

Arthur Ridout, aged 9 – Nunnery at Sagaing, Burma

Judges’ comment:
“An interesting treatment of novices receiving alms, creatively using a short depth of field to add impact, leaving the young nun clear without impinging on the action in the foreground.”
John Warburton-Lee

Under 18s – Winner

Man throwing a fishing net in Hoi An - younger photographer awards

Travis Verkaik, aged 14. Hoi An Vietnam.

Judges’ comment:
“Travis has got tight into the action and caught the moment of release to add drama and action to his photo.”
John Warburton-Lee

Under 11s – Runner up

Mt Popa - Photography awards

Alice Bristoll, aged 10. Mt Popa, Burma

Judges’ comment:
“The temple on the hill is only one factor in this beautiful photo… I have been there myself so I appreciate it even more.”
Joshua Ritchie

Under 18s – Runner up

Young photographer awards - runner up under 18s - selfies en route to Hue

Florence Miller, aged 16. Selfies en route to Hue, Vietnam.
Special commendation from John Wartburton-Lee

Best Natural World Photo

Again, a broad topic, including as it could landscapes (mountains, beaches, sea-scapes, deserts, jungles) and animals, the latter a perennially popular subject choice for children and teens. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that it was the animal pics which won our judges over, teeth and tail.

Under 11s – Winner

Young photographer awards - sloth

Eleanor Hetherington, age 11. Sloth, Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica.

Judges’ comment:
“I just love this picture. There’s something about the way that Eleanor has captured the expression on the sloth’s face that really appealed to me. It’s looking me right in the eye and I feel that I’m there in the jungle with him. Or if I’m not, then I want to be!”
Liddy Pleasants

Under 18s – Winner

Colca Canyon condor - young photographer awards winner under 18s

Imogen Richings, aged 15. Colca Canyon, Peru

Judges’ comment:
 “A well-captured image of a condor in flight using accurate focussing, correct depth of field and appropriate shutter speed, picking out individual feathers on the wing.”
John Warburton-Lee

“I love birds – they are so graceful in flight, landing and take off. Imogen’s photo shows this perfectly.”
Joshua Ritchie

Under 11s – Runner up

Caye Cauker - Young Photographer awards

Ellis Woolley, aged 9. Caye Caulker, Belize

Judges’ comment:
“I like the way the light makes the bird almost look like a shadow in this photo. The setting is very beautiful as well.”
Joshua Ritchie

Under 18s – Runner up

Leopard Sri Lanka - Young photographer awards

Hana Horsefield, aged 16. Leopard, Sri Lanka
Special commendation from Liddy Pleasants

Most Inspiring Family Travel Photo

This was the category in which Liddy said, “made founding Stubborn Mule all worthwhile”. See if you agree?

Under 11s – Winner

Zahal Spring Oman - Young Photographer awards

Alexander Mahon, aged 10. Zahal Spring Oman

Judges comment:
“A charming and natural image that captures a special family moment, both spontaneous and unposed”.
John Warburton-Lee

Under 18s – Winner

Father and son - Young photographer awards - Sri Lanka

Samuel Bradley, aged 17. Sri Lanka

Judges’ comment:
“This was a difficult category with such varied submissions but in the end, I felt that this picture perfectly encapsulates what family travel is all about. It doesn’t really matter where you are in the world, but having the time to watch sunset with your children is special. In every day life we don’t get to do this so often, but a two-week holiday has 14 sunsets so you can make up for lost time!”
Liddy Pleasants

“Your love for your father is always so great and is captured very well in this photo by Samuel.
Joshua Ritchie

Under 11s – Runner up

Siem Reap - Young Photographer Awards

Freya West, aged 9. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Special commendation from Joshua Ritchie & Liddy Pleasants

Under 18s – Runner up

Young photographer awards - sister jumping into pool in Bangkok

Rosie Meates, aged 12. Bangkok
Special commendation from Liddy Pleasants

Best Overall Photo

And now (drum roll, please), we are thrilled to announce the overall winner, the image our judges (after much deliberation and gnashing of teeth) agreed had taken the stand out shot. Take a bow, Arthur Ridout.

Nun in convent, Sagaing - Young Photographer Awards

Arthur Ridout, aged 9 – Nun in Sagaing convent, Burma

Judges comment:
“All the judges were hugely impressed by Arthur’s picture of novices lining up for lunch in a nunnery in Sagaing Hills in Burma. There is something very expressive in the nun’s face which has been beautifully captured, and the colours and contrasts in the picture are very striking. It perfectly encapsulates travel in Burma and is everything that a travel picture should be. The fact that the photographer was only 9 when the picture was taken makes us excited to see what the future holds!”
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule

Highly Commended

So many excellent photos were entered across all the categories and age groups. We wanted to recognise this and share a selection of those that the judges particularly liked. In no particular order, the highly commended photographs are…

Snake - Costa Rica - photo comp

Dan Bates, aged 11. “This photo is of a green vine snake was taken in the rainforest near Nicoya in Costa Rica.” (Natural World)

Black Rock Lodge Belize - Young Photographer Awards

Ellis Woolley, aged 9. “My sister and daddy horse-riding in the forest at Black Rock Lodge, Belize.” (Family)

Pelican at Walvis Bay - Younger Photographer Awards

Beth Sykes, aged 9, Pelican at Walvis Bay, Namibia (Natural World)

Sacred Valley - Young photographer awards

Jakob Collins, aged 9. Sacred Valley, Peru. “Young children working their family salt farm to help support their whole family.” (Cultural)

Young photographers competition - camel portrait - Mongolia family holidays

Lily Blacklock, age 12. Mongolia. “On our camel ride, we got covered in camel spit, camel wee and camel snot from this fella!” (Natural World)

Child in Oman dungeon - Young Photographer Award

Catherine Mahon, aged 8. Exploring Hams Fort, Oman. (Family)

Zebra in South Africa - young photographers awards

Phoebe Parnham, aged 8. South Africa. “We came upon a group of Zebras and managed to get amazingly close up to them.” (Natural World)

Tropic of Capricorn - Young photographers awards

Beth Sykes, aged 9. Tropic of Capricorn, Namibia. (Family)

Bird of prey Sri Lanka - young photographers competition

Hana Horsefield, aged 16. Sri Lanka. (Natural World)

Panauti Nepal - Young photographers award

Sacha Marszalek, aged 8. Broom making in Panauti, Nepal. (Cultural)

Betel nut - Burma - Young Photographers awards

Arthur Ridout, aged 9. Betel nut, Burma. (Cultural)

Chitwan - young photographer award

Caspar Marszalek, aged 9. Chitwan National Park, Nepal. “We really loved the wrinkles and cracks in the rhino’s tough hide.” (Natural World)

Reflection in sun glasses - Young photographer competition

Alex Richings, aged 14. Peru. (Family)

Fisherman in Sri Lanka, young photography awards

Samuel Bradley, aged 17. Fisherman, Sri Lanka. (Cultural)

U-Bein Bridge - Young Photographer Awards

Arthur Ridout, aged 9. U Bein Bridge, Burma. (Cultural)

Peruvian child - young photographer competition

Alex Richings, age 14. Peru. (Cultural)

Yping photographers award - bird on statue

Reuben Bignell, age 14. Lima, Peru. (Cultural)

Turtle Beach Oman -young photographer awards

Alexander Mahon, aged 10. Camping on Turtle Beach, Oman. (Natural World)

Sri Lanka beach scene - Young Photographers awards

Hana Horsefield, aged 16. Sri Lanka. (Cultural))

Monkey and baby in Sri Lanka - photo awards

Samuel Bradley, aged 17. Sri Lanka. (Natural World)

Cusco skyline - younger photographer awards

Imogen Richings, aged 15, Cusco, Peru. “… the beauty of the night sky and the bright lights of the city below.” (Natural World)

Young photographer awards 2017 - family - Ninh Binh

Travis Verkaik, aged 14. Ninh Binh, Vietnam. (Family)

On behalf of all of us at Stubborn Mule, a huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who submitted entries into our Young Photographer Awards. We do hope that you had as much fun composing and taking them as we did judging them.

Liddy Pleasants
MD Stubborn Mule Travel

Check out our Destinations page if you’d like to find out more about all the wonderful countries our young photographers visited.

All ages mentioned in this blog relate to the date the photograph was taken, on a Stubborn Mule Travel holiday.

Please do share this blog on social media with your friends and family – the photographers really do deserve a huge amount of credit. Thank you.