Meet our ten Every Cloud finalists

On October 24th we launched our biggest competition ever; Every Cloud. With the world sometimes feeling in turmoil, we set out in search of stories that remind us how the world can still bring us moments of immense joy. Some of these left us in tears. Others in howls of laughter. Cutting the list down was not, as you can imagine, easy. And yet the judges did eventually, after many agonizing decisions, settle on their final ten.

These ten final stories moved us; they caught us up in their imaginative worlds; they plumbed the depths and scoured the highs of the human experience. And they did it all with beautiful, arresting imagery. It was no easy task. And so, without further ado, we’d like to introduce the final ten – one of whom will become our first Every Cloud reporter.

This is tense. Do you feel tense?

p.s. keep a lookout for our email at the start of 2020 to see what they’ve been getting up to over Christmas.

#1, Alex

“Do the darkest fronds in this photo look delicious?

They are. It’s Pepper Dulse seaweed – maybe the tastiest, most hopeful thing I’ve ever eaten. So tasty and rich, it earns the nickname “Truffle of the Sea”. So hopeful, because it’s sustainable food, bursting into the bays of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. I was led to it by Oonagh, a mellow spirit whose “Seaweed Walk” near Lahinch decoded the busy carpet beneath us – revealing each plant’s vitamins, umami, and healing powers. We harvested Nori for broths, Wrack for baths, Sea Lettuce to give dull salads a high-fashion neon flash. Leave an inch and it grows back fast, Oonagh enthused. Hours later, I savoured scrambled eggs with Sea Truffle (some stirred through; extra on top). Days later, I swam off that chilly west coast, emboldened by new friends, and by that truffly sustenance. I’m excited for those who try it all next.”

#2, Allegra

“Happiness is the freedom to do what brings you the purest joy.

For Juana Victoria Chávez, happiness is found in the simplest form: making chocolate.”

#3, Amanda

“In 2016 (quite a divisive year in the US) I visited Jerusalem and had one day to see it all.

Thanks to a fabulous guide I did. The last stop was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher to see the final stations of the cross. Many visitors bring cloths to rub on the stone of the anointing to take as a relic, but I was unprepared. I suggested we look for a fabric store, and there was one nearby. The shop was in the Muslim Quarter, and I told the owner of the shop what I wanted (0.5 meters of cotton cloth) and that I needed it to rub on the stone. When I asked him how much, he replied: “it is free, because it is for God”. And there I stood, a Catholic, with my Jewish guide, and a Muslim shopkeeper, unbelievably touched. It made it clear to me that the reason I love travel so much is these experiences. And that we all are so much more alike than we are different. Photo of the thirteenth station, Stone of the anointing.”

#4, Byrony

“Often happiness isn’t in the big events but the tiny moments, moments where you find yourself in the right place at the right time.

Moments like this one where I was taking a streetcar through New Orleans overwhelmed with excitement at my first Mardi Gras. As I gazed out the window absorbing my new surroundings I spotted this little glimpse of happiness. As the car pulled away I managed to grab my camera and capture the moment in a slight blur, a moment that made me realise that travel isn’t just the main event but the tiny glimpses into other people’s lives that makes travelling so addictive.”

#5, Cortney

“This isn’t the typical photo I’d normally post on here, but it represents how one dinner with 10 strangers from 5 countries changed my entire outlook on life and the world around me.

It was my first time outside the US, and I was so excited to be in Africa with these incredible humans. We drank tea together, ate home cooked food prepared by our hosts, sang songs, and shared stories under more stars than I have ever seen in my life. I looked around at the beautiful faces I had the privilege of sharing that meal with, and felt overwhelming gratitude.

We celebrated our shared humanity instead of fearing our differences. In a time when there seems to be darkness everywhere we turn, let’s think about those moments that spark joy, and remind ourselves just what a gift it is to be a part of this big, incredible world.”

#6, Donna

“Menders and Mendes In Istanbul

They sit together on the ground at the end of a bustling street, huddled over a sprawling quilt in simple flowered dresses that ride up over plump legs. Tightly wrapped headscarves hide silvering strands of hair. Doors on nearby trains swoosh, a backbeat to the women’s animated chatter and darting needles.

Another woman looks on—long and leggy, she seems to have little in common with the trio below, except perhaps a love of sweets. Her hair is freed and flowing, her body sculpted, her dress glamorous, her posture languorous, her appetites big. For her, ice cream is not a luxury; it’s a given, as essential as female camaraderie and teamwork.

Women today struggle to be many things—dedicated caregivers; expert workers; devoted friends; owners of their bodies, pleasures and freedoms.

The tears in such a complex quilt can be hard to stitch together.”

#7, Ervin

“Last year, I found myself in an uncertain place in life. I had just left an unfulfilling career that left me feeling unhappy and stuck.

With the idea of hitting the reset button and figuring out the next chapter in my life, I found myself in India. During the trip, I spent one week in the spiritual capital of Varanasi.

This photo was taken in the Ganges River. Every morning, this woman would jump in for a bath and prayer. Watching her pray with such love and grace, put me at ease of where I was in life and appreciate the things I had.

It was during my time in Varanasi that I found photography (documentary-style) to be a true passion of mine. I have the belief that everyone has a story. And the more cultures we are exposed to, the more understanding and closer the world can become.”

#8, João

“Not again! We get caught in heavy traffic on our way to the beautiful Song Kul Lake in Kyrgystan.

At this time of the year in the end of spring and start of summer, it’s common for the Nomad families to migrate to higher locations to find better food to their live-stock. These three shepards were taking around 600 animals to meet their families who’ve been setting up a Yurt camp (local tents) around the Lake. Some animals were being transported inside the car as they collapsed with the cold, these included: -2 sheep -1 cow – 1 donkey. Travelling solo with my dad for a month was an amazing experience but this picture we soon realised this would be an event that would change our lives. Night fell and our 4×4 became stuck in the mud/snow. Without phone signal or satellite we were adopted by a nomad family and helped them building their camp (yurts), lived with them like through nomads for 4days until we managed to get our jeep out.”

#9, James

“I bet a fair few of you didn’t realise the badass adventurer in this shot was my Mum! So here goes…

My passion for travel comes from Mum and Dad. Born in the UK, they met in the Far East and lived and worked all over the world. We sadly lost my Dad five years ago, and we’ve taken an annual trip on his birthday to honour his legacy ever since. This year, however, it got a tad more long-haul… 18 hours of flights, 72 hours on a boat, and at least 548 down feathers in my puffer jacket later, we were in Antarctica.

Behemoth icebergs drifting by, towering mountains glistening on the horizon, and silence occasionally interrupted by the crash of a whale fluking – Antarctica makes you feel small, yet peaceful. This particular moment makes me both unfathomably happy and incredibly proud. Exploring a place I never imagined I’d be with my little ol’ Mum, the person who inspired my desire to be there in the first place.”

#10, Noah

“The assault of a jabbing seat, 18 ½ hours of recycled sneezes and wet coughs, a spilled drink, the incessant ding of an unsilenced phone.

The perfect start. Room complications, restaurants that aren’t open yet to feed my vocal, empty belly, and the weight of sleep deprivation getting heavier. I step out into a vile heatwave that rouses the filthy smells of Bangkok’s streets and make my way through chaotic traffic to a temple whose beauty is hidden by obnoxious crowds.

At the top of an infinite staircase, seen between limbs and over heads, I get a glimpse of a brilliant saffron robe. Standing in stillness among twisted trees, a lone man, a monk, calmly looks out onto his world with a gentle smile. As I watch him in stillness myself, mesmerized, I take what feels like my first breath in a long time and a wide smile overtakes me.”