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Finding Family

Assignment ends on Jul 10, 2017

On a recent afternoon, while sitting in my friend Erik’s living room sipping an adult beverage, I was flooded with a profound feeling of connection.

Erik’s five-year-old son was playing with my four-month-old daughter. Perhaps I’m a bit sentimental, the combination of a lack of sleep and being a new dad, or maybe it was just the effects of the cocktail, but I couldn’t help feeling a deep sense of life’s connective tissue and the passage of time.

You see, I remember meeting Erik like it was yesterday. We were just five years old in Mrs. Brown’s kindergarten class. Erik was playing with building blocks, no doubt using Pythagorean’s Theorem and complex geometry to build an architectural masterpiece. I introduced myself as much as a five-year-old can, and in an instant a forty-year connection was born. Now, all these years later, we sat together on a warm afternoon and watched his son Helix meet my daughter Elsa for the first time. Helix is exactly the age that Erik and I were when we first met. There on the floor, Elsa coos and grabs hold of Helix’s finger gripping it tightly. He giggles, amazed at this little human being. He leans close and tells her that he loves her.

Erik and I never really decided to be friends—we just are. Always have been, always will be. As I watch our children begin the connection anew, it isn’t so much friendship that comes to mind—it’s family.

In this spirit, we’re calling this new assignment “Finding Family.” What is family for you? Is it your brothers and sisters in arms, with bonds formed during a tour of duty in a distant land? Is it your foster brothers and sisters? Maybe family for you requires shared blood or a marriage certificate. Maybe family is more complicated for you—darker, more painful. Or do members of your family even have to be human?

As you begin photographing, we have a couple of suggestions. Feel free to take portraits, but don’t just show us who your family is—try to capture the special element that shows why they are family. You can also photograph your family in action, documenting the traditions and rituals that make your family special.

Good luck, and good shooting!

Matt Moyer (and Amy Toensing)
National Geographic photographers

Curated by:

Matt Moyer
National Geographic Photographer

Amy Toensing
National Geographic Photographer
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Published

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13 days left. Assignment ends on Jul 10, 2017.
No updates for this assignment.
Matt Moyer

Matt Moyer

National Geographic Photographer
Matt Moyer is a photojournalist committed to documenting the social and cultural issues that affect our world. His intimate photographs go behind the headlines to put a human face on the biggest issues of the day. For the past decade Moyer has spent his time photographing feature stories for National Geographic magazine and documenting social issues for non-profit foundations. He has also worked on assignment for other prominent publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, The Independent, and The Guardian. He has covered the major events of the past decade including the fall of the twin towers, security contractors in Afghanistan, healthcare in America, and the Iraq war.

Amy Toensing

Amy Toensing

National Geographic Photographer
Amy Toensing, an American photojournalist committed to telling stories with sensitivity and depth, is known for her intimate essays about the lives of ordinary people. Toensing has been a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine for over a decade and recently completed her fifteenth feature story for them. She has covered cultures around the world including the last cave dwelling tribe of Papua New Guinea, the Maori of New Zealand and the Kingdom of Tonga. She has also covered issues such as the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina and Muslim women living in Western culture. For 4 years she documented Aboriginal Australia which was published in the June, 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine.