Best Pictures of 2013 Named; See National Geographic Winners

From lions of the Serengeti to the fracking frenzy in North Dakota, National Geographic's photographic take on the world has earned several awards in the Pictures of the Year International (POYi) contest.

National Geographic magazine (pictured, the October 2013 cover) won first place in the Best Magazine category.

National Geographic Magazine has been named "best magazine" for 2013 in a contest sponsored by Pictures of the Year International.

The award, announced last week, was one of several won by National Geographic. The magazine won two first-place awards for individual photographs in the feature and science and natural history categories and two more first-place prizes for story photography in the sports story editing and news and issue story editing categories.

National Geographic's website also won special recognition on Tuesday for its Serengeti Lion project.

Organized by the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, the annual contest began in 1944 to showcase photography taken during World War II.

The contest's mission remains "to empower the world's best documentary photography, to provide a visual portrayal of society, and to foster an understanding of the issues facing our civilization."

Sarah Leen, director of photography for National Geographic magazine, says the winners "are a testament to the type of relevant and powerful stories we share with our readers.

"We are privileged to work with the world's greatest photographers, who give so much of themselves to create these stories," she says. "That partnership is, and has always been, essential to our success."

Chris Johns, magazine editor-in-chief, said: "Occasionally there is a photograph that simply takes our breath away. That is exactly what happened when we saw John Stanmeyer's remarkable photo of men holding their cell phones to the evening sky. The photo is magic and says so much about life today in the Horn of Africa."

First Place, Feature


Impoverished African migrants crowd the night shore of Djibouti city, trying to capture cell phone signals from neighboring Somalia.

The photo, captured by John Stanmeyer and edited by Kim Hubbard, accompanied the feature story "To Walk the World." It won the First Place, Feature award in the annual POYI competition.

"He managed to distill our entire story into one beautiful, moonlit image: Modern-day migration meets the universal desire for connection," Hubbard says.

First Place, Science and Natural History


An African lion named C-Boy stares at the camera in a photograph that won First Place, Science and Natural History. Michael Nichols snapped the photograph, which was edited by Kathy Moran, as part of the two-year Serengeti Lions project.

"This is a straightforward portrait that somehow manages to convey the beauty and power of an animal at home in its environment," says Moran. "I love the combination of simplicity and power."

First Place, Sports Story Editing


National Geographic followed the trail of the world's first skiers in a December feature that won First Place, Sports Story Editing.

"Every National Geographic story is an intense, intimate collaboration," says photo editor Elizabeth Krist in an e-mail. "We work especially closely with the photographer (in this case, Jonas Bendiksen) and the design editor (Elaine Bradley). Jonas and I had a lot of fun with this story—I'm just grateful I didn't have to ski!"

First Place, News & Issue Story Editing


A glimpse inside North Dakota's fracking boom, "The New Oil Landscape," won First Place, News & Issue Story Editing.

Photographed by Eugene Richards, the story "is a powerful look at the impact of the oil fracking boom on the landscape and communities of North Dakota," says Leen, who edited the piece.

"These eloquent images show a land where five years ago only the wind disturbed the silence. This story is a perfect example of a relevant and very important topic illustrated by provocative, moving imagery." (Also see "The Emptied Prairie" in National Geographic magazine.)