Embrace the Untamed

This assignment ran from May 19 to Jun 9, 2014.

Nature and wildlife photography is as closely tied to the National Geographic brand as it gets. It's arguably what we do best. We even have a television channel, Nat Geo WILD, that is dedicated to nature and wildlife shows. Their Destination Wild programs take you to the farthest corners of the globe in search of nature at its least domesticated. We love wildlife photography; Nat Geo WILD loves wildlife photography. So it only made sense that we do an assignment in partnership with Nat Geo WILD, which we are dubbing "Embrace the Untamed."

This assignment is seeking the wildest animal and nature photos you have. We'll take anything from the deer in your backyard to the photos you snapped on that safari through Kruger National Park. But it's not just about animals. A raging river or daunting mountain peak is also perfect for the assignment. Show us nature displaying its untamed majesty. One rule: no pets allowed in this one! More

Curated by:

Evelyn Hockstein
Assignment Status
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Published Jun 17, 2014.
Thank you for your contributions!

Capture the Spirit

Posted jun 3, 2014

There's one week left to show us how you've photographed this amazing untamed world! I've seen everything from crazy weather to majestic landscapes to fascinating insects to your neighborhood deer—I'm impressed.

As you submit images during this last week, especially those of you submitting animal images, keep this word in mind: untamed. Think even broader and wider this week. What does "embracing the untamed" mean? I can't resist a good portrait of an animal—a close-up of a lion's face, a gorilla, an owl—but the images that blow my socks off are the ones that capture the spirit and context of this wild world. If I favorite an animal shot, it's usually because I see more of the animal's spirit or environment in the shot, rather than just its face. Or maybe I favorite a bird photograph because the bird is flying in a flock and this gives me a sense of the space, height, freedom, or vastness of the natural world. More context might give your images a better sense of this wild world and convey that "untamed" feeling.

Remember, embracing the untamed isn't about literally embracing them—people and pets don't belong in this competition. I'm looking forward to seeing more submissions this week, and keep up the great work!

Natural Habitat

Posted may 30, 2014

It's been an amazing start to the assignment—I've been enchanted looking at everyone's amazing pictures, from far and wide, of wildlife or nature or both! The pictures were particularly poignant for me this week: I was in Ukraine covering a difficult conflict, so each night I'd look forward to unwinding by checking out the newest uploads on the site, by which you've been taking me to the most beautiful parts of this planet or highlighting her wild inhabitants up close and personal. I loved picking my favorites and commenting on the images.

I got an interesting note from one participant that I wanted to share. I was asked if it was OK to submit images of zoo animals. I've seen quite a few zoo (and aquarium) pictures, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to respond. Technically, there's no rule against submitting images of zoo animals, but I don't think an animal out of the wild captures the spirit of this assignment. Zoos are a great place to see animals you might not have a chance to see otherwise, but Embracing the Untamed is really about photographing nature and animals in their natural habitat. Don't worry if you can't make it on safari or trek through mountains to photograph mountain goats—you might get some wonderful, untamed images in your own backyard. This week I loved a shot of a snail on a toadstool taken in West Virginia, as well as some amazing storm clouds on the Great Plains.

The best images might be in your backyard, but no pets allowed—keep embracing the untamed!

Go Wild

Posted may 19, 2014

The best photos in this category will be a visual celebration of "wild." And as part of the partnership with Nat Geo WILD, some images may be featured on related online and on-air showcases all over the world. An exciting prospect and a way to get your photos seen by millions.

So start snapping. Start curating. And remember to embrace the untamed.

Destination Wild airs around the world on Nat Geo WILD. Check your local listings and visit for more information.

Evelyn Hockstein

Evelyn Hockstein

Evelyn Hockstein is an award-winning photojournalist who has worked in more than 70 countries for news outlets that include the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, and Newsweek. While based in Africa for seven years, Hockstein covered, among other subjects, the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—including the fate of the rare eastern lowland gorillas—and elephant poaching in Zambia. She has won two Pictures of the Year International awards and the Days Japan International Photojournalism award, and her work has been exhibited in the U.S., U.K., South Africa, Japan, and Kenya.