You might think that the best travel photos are about eye-catching destinations. That's only partly true. To make a picture that is arresting -- the kind that grabs you because it captures the essence of the place, or depicts some drama, or offers surprising beauty -- requires a keen eye and craft.

Many of our readers clearly have those skills.

To get a unique image of the Matterhorn, one of the world's most photographed peaks, Val Knudsen of East Gull Lake, Minn., waited until hikers rounded a bend and were outlined by clouds, showcasing the mountain's height and the physical exertion required to scale it. When Emily Ackerman of Minneapolis traveled to Machu Picchu, she framed the scene with a trio of llamas that lend a quirky sense of place. In the photo Brad Benson of Minnetonka took of the Taj Mahal, a collection of boys steals the show, making the Taj a mystical beauty beyond the reach of a harsher reality. It is an honest picture, and one that we dwell on more than any pristine postcard image of that iconic building.

For more proof that our readers capture vacations with style, just look at the photos here, the best of the reader photos of 2012. To share your own images, upload them at "Viewfinders" at