2020 GeoEx Staff Photo Contest | GeoEx
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2020 GeoEx Staff Photo Contest

By Alysa Pakkidis | May 1, 2020

As a passionate group of travelers, it’s been a long-standing tradition at GeoEx to have a bi-yearly staff photo contest. We normally have the submissions professionally printed, mounted, and displayed for several weeks so everyone can enjoy while the voting could take place. We would then celebrate the winners by having a party for us all to gather, imbibe, and discuss our photos.

This year, as we’re all sheltering-in-place, we had to get creative: We decided to have a digital viewing and throw our winner’s party with a video hangout! We hope you enjoy these images from our—talented!—staff and feel inspired to revisit some of your own travel photos.

And the winner is…

Petra by Jenny Velasco, Director, Special Projects
The sun was long gone, the desert air was still warm, and we found ourselves walking along a dusty trail, with tealights dimly lighting the way and tall canyon walls flanking us on both sides. When we reached the end of the Siq, the sandstone walls opened up and gave way to an incredible sight: Petra’s iconic Treasury by night. We settled in, surrounded by hundreds of candles, and gazed up in awe.

Followed by all of the wonderful submissions:

Coming-of-Age Dance by Katie Stoyka, Marketing Content Specialist
Taken while traveling in Yap Island, in the Federated States of Micronesia while at the Yap Day event. Yap Day is a cultural festival with competitions between villages for dancing, food, and traditional skills in a place where people still adhere to traditional lifestyles. It was like being at a small-town county fair, but instead of line-dancing I’m watching a boys coming-of-age dance, and instead of funnel cake I’m eating breadfruit in the damp heat of the tropics. The people’s pride, sense of community, and desire to share Yapese culture was humbling and beautiful.
Baby Golden Monkey by Jesse Knight, Director, Premier Access
Hiking amongst the whimsical bamboo forests of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, we came upon a troop of sociable golden monkeys. Numbering at least 50, these endearing—and endangered—primates scampered among the trees and playfully bound from limb to limb. This guy was fast asleep resting on branches and his mother’s back. Most people visit Rwanda to see the famous mountain gorilla, but Rwanda’s many other primate species will also steal your heart. 
Chimpanzee by Natalie Crow, Managing Director, Global Sales
I was on a chimp trekking adventure in the remote Mahale Mountains National Park, which lies on the shores of a lake that separates Tanzania and the DRC. After hiking and bushwhacking through foliage for about an hour, we found a family of Habituated Wild Chimpanzees—one of humankind’s closest relatives. I was very emotional and felt a little like Jane Goodall.  There are now more chimps in captivity than in the wild, which is a sobering fact. I certainly did not take my visit with them for granted, however. It was once of the best travel experiences of my life!
Bagan, Myanmar by Corinne Edwards, Director, Global Sales
Taken during sunrise after climbing atop a large, ancient pagoda (a specific area made for climbing, of course). We biked to the area before the sun was out, and my adrenaline was pumping by the time we found the perfect spot to sit and admire the view. The hot air balloons were all on their own path, floating through the color-changing sky like ornaments. An unforgettable morning.
Kerala by Sam Hyatt, Director, Global Sales
When you order take out for lunch in the Kerala backwaters.
Bison by Andrew Riley, Director, Global Sales
Captured in Yellowstone in the winter: The bison herds were blocking the road and I was feeling brave as I stepped out of the car, photographing these shaggy, 2000 pound herbivores!
Leopard at Santawani by Rachel Morris, Director, Group Departures
Taken while on safari at the Santawani Concession in the Okavango Delta. While coming back from an afternoon drive, we happened upon a female leopard close to camp. The sunset colors and calm demeanor of this big cat were entrancing, and we followed her for some time as she wandered through the trees paying us no attention.  
Perfume by Tina Liadis, Director, Global Sales
I took this photo in the Ta’if area, about 2.5 hours’ drive from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Ta’if is sometimes called the Garden of Mecca and is known for its fruit, honey, flowers, and floral perfumes. Depicted are a father and daughter in the scent garden adjacent to their home-based perfume factory. Arabs are renowned for their hospitality, and it was very much evident here. Despite it being Friday—the Muslim day of prayer, when most things are closed—they opened their home to me, gave me a tour to explain the perfume-making process, treated me to dates, cake, Arabic coffee, and tea, and then gave me gifts of rosewater and perfume before I left. Such lovely, generous, people.
Lion Eyes by Laura Hoffacker, Director, Premier Access 
This young male lion was sitting atop a termite mound, scanning the horizon, and roaring loudly trying to locate his pride before sundown. My guide Isaac and I had spent the day exploring the Okavango Delta of Botswana. We enjoyed sitting quietly for a while, just taking in the beauty. His eyes and mane really drew us in. I wanted to capture this in a photograph, and I needed to get creative to get the image I envisioned. Issac taught me to be bold and experimental with the camera. This photo is a little dark, and I love it because it always brings me back to this sweet moment in time.
Friends by Glenn Ringer, Director, Partnerships & Purchasing
I ran into this fabulous lady while strolling the grounds of the large Buddhist temple complex at Thanboddhay Pagoda in Monywa, Myanmar, on the eastern banks of Chindwin River. The two of us had a great time communicating through facial expressions and body language.  She was delighted I wanted to take her picture and it reminds me of one of the most special moments from my trip. 
Crystal Castles by Alysa Pakkidis, Creative Director
Music, like traveling, is what moves me. And when I get to combine the two, even better. I love feeling the pulse of the music and getting whisked up by the energy of the band and crowd. While immersed in this moment, dancing wildly, I had to try and capture what I was experiencing.
Leucistic Baby Baboon by Jessica Silber, Senior Director, Global Sales
On safari in the South Luangwa, Zambia, a sweet baby baboon pauses from romping around to observe humans from the safety of his mom’s side. He stands out from his playmates because he is all-white, but he’s not albino—he has a genetic mutation called leucism, which causes partial reduction of pigment. 
Desolation Wilderness by Danielle Garland, Guest Services Manager
This twilight photo was captured at Island Lake within the serene and splendid Desolation Wilderness region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We hiked all day to reach this spot, where we pitched our tents for the night—this dusk view was our reward for a long day’s trek. The sun had dipped below the craggy ridge, revealing a sublime sunset scene of silhouetted trees and pastel clouds reflected in the lake’s still, silvery waters.
Dubrovnik’s Old Town by Heather Cunningham, Director, Group Departures
I was alive during the 1991 bombardment of the famed city, but not old enough to have been aware of the catastrophic attack happening so far from my middle school classroom. The city was left in ruins. But, Dubrovnik rebuilt, restoring the city to its previous grandeur. 
For me, this scene represents so many things: a community’s resolve to rebuild after tragedy, the importance and impact of culture and history—the buildings were rebuilt to look as they did prior to the destruction, the significance of togetherness and belonging. While I’m sure this view would be breathtaking no matter what, it’s more compelling that the roofs and buildings are purposely designed to all look the same. In fact, when I submitted this photo, my colleague Jesse asked me if it was Dubrovnik despite that I had not included any description of the photo. He knew from this one-shot, that this was Dubrovnik.
Santiago Protests by Errin Mixon, Junior Front-end Developer
Taken in Santiago, Chile in November 2019, as the second wave of protests began. Most of the buildings were covered with graffiti and posters of those who had died. You can’t see the crowds of people outside the frame, but most were wearing bandanas tied around their faces as masks, to protect from tear gas. This building faced my hotel, and this man lay in the doorway all day as throngs of people walked past him.
Yosemite by Natalie Werve, Director, Business Operations
In spite of all the wonderful places I’ve visited around the globe, Yosemite is still my favorite place on earth. This photo captures a small slice of the park’s broad variety of beautiful scenes, both subtle and dramatic.
Cheetah at Singita Grumeti, Tanzania by Kim Keating, Senior Director, Global Sales
In all my years of safari, it was my first cheetah sighting! I was so excited I almost fell out of the vehicle. She must have taken pity on my flustered excitement because she posed perfectly.
Sahara Desert, Morocco by Samantha Warren
This moment was surreal. I was high in the air, riding a camel, as the sun was setting and the dunes were turning gold. The landscape was like nothing I’d ever seen. I looked back to see our shadows in the sand. It felt like we were ancient explorers wandering the desert. I kept asking myself, is this real or am I dreaming?
Cow in Karimabad by Daniel Olavarrieta, Guest Services Manager
September 2020: A cow poses for the camera in Karimabad, Pakistan.
Saan Bushmen by Melanie Regino, Guest Services Manager
Saan bushmen walking through the Kalahari desert in Botswana, demonstrating the utility of various plants.
Golden Eagle by Pat Arce, Officer Manager
Driving toward Kharkhorin, Mongolia, we were waiting and watching this raptor to see what he would do. It was awesome watching this bird take off and soar right in front of us—so free and powerful in this wide-open space.
Convict Lake, Mono County, CA by Bri Milano, Guest Services Manager
Escaping the heat of the Mojave Desert in early spring, I found winter. Carving out plans for distant adventures.  

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We invite you to vote for your favorite in the comments below. Perhaps you have a favorite travel photo of yours to share? You can also leave that in the comments below!

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wen minkoff
wen minkoff
4 years ago

I wasn’t able to make the unveiling party so am extra glad to see them here!

4 years ago

Amazing photos!

4 years ago

Voting for Heathers photo… just cause I had the pleasure of traveling with her. Hope to meet the others someday on future trips😃

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