The Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum and research complex, is recognized around the world for its dedication to the arts and sciences.

Its annual photo contest supports that mission, highlighting images that showcase all the world has to offer. This year, the Smithsonian received 48,000 submissions from 155 countries and territories in the following categories — Natural World, The American Experience, Travel, People, Altered Images and Mobile.

The winners have been announced in every category, and the overall grand prize winner is Thong Huu's image "Breakfast at the Weekly Market" taken in northern Vietnam. In his submission, Huu said people not only go to the market to shop for goods but also to share their culture with others while eating breakfast.

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Reader's Choice

Smithsonian Reader's Choice winner
'Rare' (Photo: © Sara Jacoby. All rights reserved.)

The competition also allowed people to vote for their favorite photo. Out of the 60 finalists, Sara Jacoby's image of a young girl at the optometrist's office won the Reader's Choice Award.

Her image is entitled "Rare" because "She has two rare chromosome duplications, one of which she's the only child on record to have," Jacoby said in her submission. "This photo captures not only her vulnerability, but also the magnitude of the science for which we are so grateful. A little girl and her "Gigi" already way too familiar with hospitals and doctors offices than any child should be."


Smithsonian travel photo winner
'Making Incense' (Photo: © Tran Tuan Viet. All rights reserved.)

Tran Tuan Viet's photo of bundled incense almost looks like a painting. Viet said incense "is an irreplaceable part of traditional festivals and religious ceremonies" in Buddhist countries like Vietnam.


Smithsonian people category winner
'Rain' (Photo: © Seyed Mohammad Sadeg. All rights reserved.)

Photographer Seyed Mohammad Sadegh Hosseini captured this strikingly intimate portrait of a young "Iranian nomad girl living in the Babanajm nomad region south of Shiraz city in Fars Province, Iran."

Altered Images

Smithsonian Altered Images photo winner
'Stairs' (Photo: © Adam Żądło. All rights reserved.)

Look too fast, and you may miss the sheep steadfastly walking one-by-one up a flight of stairs. "There are not many other animals as productive as sheep. They give us wool, milk, meat. Their memoirs are usually short. The pool of names is repeated every two years on our farm. We have already had two Queens, three Theos and four Fables," said Adam Żądło.


Smithsonian mobile category winner
'Shadow Highlight' (Photo: © Mohammad Mohsenifar. All rights reserved.)

Photographer Mohammad Mohsenifar leaves a lot to the imagination in his shadowy photograph. The only information he provided is what you can see for yourself in the image — "A couple of ladies are passing in front of graffiti."

Natural World

Smithsonian Natural World winner
'Pinnacle of Existence' (Photo: © Oreon Strusinski. All rights reserved.)

Oreon Strusinski captures the strength and beauty of the ocean. "Energy travels hundreds of miles across the ocean and comes to a dramatic end when it reaches our shores."

The American Experience

Smithsonian The American Experience winner
'Backflip Submission' (Photo: © Dan Fenstermacher. All rights reserved.)

Dan Fenstermacher's image of two wrestlers fighting in a ring is surprisingly entertaining and shocking. The ring appears to be in the middle of a neighborhood street, and locals standing around in amusement. He captured a very unique "American Experience" in this action-packed shot.

The Smithsonian is already accepting submissions now until Nov. 30, 2018 for next year's competition.

Editor's note: This photo blog has been updated since it was originally published in March 2018.