11/14/2011 05:05 pm ET

National Geographic Contest Sparks Shutterbug Swarm (PHOTOS)

The annual National Geographic Photo Contest is well-underway yet again and the entries seem to be pouring in from around the globe. The photos run the gamut from portraits to landscapes, but all stress the significance of place, which makes flipping through them both an invigorating and disorienting experience.

Last year the contest judges had to comb through some 16,000 entries. This year that massive sort is being undertaken by three of National Geographic Magazine's photographers, Tim Laman, Amy Toensing and Peter Essick. The winner will walk away with $10,000 and a trip to the Society's D.C. Batcave.

The photographs are an excellent break from the snapshots that have begun to pile up in nearly everyone's Facebook feed or inbox. These images are well considered and, at their best, capture the sorts of moments that keep travelers exploring.

Our friends at the society were kind enough to let us showcase some of our favorite images from the contest thus far.