EDITOR’S NOTE: For the “Follow Me” assignment you may submit already previously published images.
As you have noticed, we now offer a “Follow” feature. This is the first of many new upgrades you’ll be seeing with the Your Shot user experience.
Your Shot is a community of over 800,000 photographers representing 195 countries who have submitted over seven million photos. So the question is: Who should we follow, and where to begin? That is the goal of this assignment, to help us find and follow you.
You will have three submissions to impress us — the Your Shot community — to follow you. Your three submissions should not be your favorite, but your best. They can be from your archives, or an image you shot yesterday. They can be documentary, portraiture, or still life. They can be color or black and white. They can be from a series, or single features. Just remember, these three photos should be your best.
Each of these three photos will distinguish who YOU are as a photographer. These three photos will reveal the way you see the world. These three photos will identify your voice as a visual storyteller. These three photos will re-introduce yourself to the Your Shot community.
Be honest with yourself and your toughest critic. Really analyze your images photographically. Look at the composition, light, and moment. Think about the advice/notes from National Geographic photographers and editors who have previously curated Your Shot assignments.
Use your captions as an opportunity to expand and elevate the viewer’s experience with your image. Your captions should answer who, what, why, and when. Trust us, sometimes we see pictures that are absolutely amazing, but the captions are so poorly written that we decide against selecting them for the Daily Dozen or featuring them in the final stories. Use the “Edit Photo Details” function on the photos already in your gallery to re-write your captions. Think about the cliché: “You only get one chance to make a first impression” throughout this assignment.
We hope you take this assignment seriously. Think of it as an opportunity to start building your portfolio.
To prevent you from just submitting without taking the time to reflect on your photos, the assignment uploading will not be available until March 27, 2017 at 12PM EST. So you have one week to really think about your three submissions. The discussion board is open, and we hope you will take advantage of each other and ask for feedback. Take your time before you submit. Remember you will only get three submissions. There is no rush to be first to submit. Take your time.
Meanwhile “Favorite” the photos you like; “Follow” the photographers you want to remember. We know we will.
Submission deadline will be April 10, 2017 at 12PM EST.
When I was a struggling freshman photography student many years ago, I failed my way through so many projects. I couldn’t figure out how to get my film onto those damn metal reels for developing. Composition and light were foreign concepts to me. Every critique from my peers felt like a death sentence. For some reason I was into photographing trees, rocks, and buildings. Why? I have no idea. There are people who create amazing work in the world of landscape and architectural photography, but I was not one of them. My first photo professor pulled me aside after class and asked me, “What do you want to photograph? Because you can’t keep photographing things you don’t care about.” I stared back at him wide-eyed. I felt like he was asking me what my purpose on on this planet, and at the time I just wanted to go to get some French fries from the café. “What are your interests?” he continued. “What do you want to do with photography?”
“Well… I like music,” I managed to reply. “I go to a lot of shows.”
“Okay,” he said, “the next show you go to, take your camera and some rolls of film, and let’s see what you can do.”
That was fourteen years ago, and it was just the beginning of finding my passion for photographing musicians and live shows. At that first concert with my camera I found myself thinking more about the light, where I should aim my lens, how I could work in new perspectives or angles.
The reason I’m telling you this story is because as you submit to the Follow Me assignment, I want you to think about what interests you, as well as which images represent who you are as a photographer. Photo editor David Y. Lee said in the first Editor’s Update that the submissions should be strong in techniques. I agree, of course—but I also want to see the photographs that best represent your profile page. Think of this assignment as a way to re-introduce yourselves to our community. If I click on your profile name, what will I see when I get to your gallery? Will it be great portrait work? Abstract macro photography? Maybe an incredible documentary series? You only get three submissions here, so make them count. I know it’s not an easy task, so continue to ask for the community’s opinions through the discussion boards.
Finally, I have been an editor on Your Shot for two years now. This assignment has been a great trip into the past as photographers share memorable images from early assignments and Daily Dozen collections. Thank you for reminding me of all the amazing work we have collected on this site. It’s been a place of invaluable inspiration for me and, I’m sure, the countless others who visit here daily.
Associate Photo Editor
Editor's Update 1
Even though I’ve been with Your Shot since September 2016, I still haven’t had a chance to “meet” many of you. This assignment is a perfect opportunity for me — for all of us — to see your best, to further recognize your talent. I am very excited about this “Follow Me” assignment.
How do I choose a photo to be an Editor’s Favorite? When I was a photo intern at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I had a photo editor repeat this mantra to me before he looked at my raw take from each day’s assignment: “David Lee, make me care.”
So I challenge you to make me care.
I want to stop and react to your photo — maybe the light is breathtaking, maybe the frame is wonderfully composed, maybe the moment you’ve documented is so intimate. Maybe your photo is taking me somewhere in the world I’ve never been, seen, or experienced.
I am also reading your caption. I won’t lie, there are a lot of beautiful photos that I want to leave an Editor’s Favorite (yellow heart) — but the captions do not answer the who, what, why, when, and where; I do not want to Google to learn more. As one of the curators for this assignment, I am telling you what I am looking for. Yes, I know many of you may believe that a good photo does not need a caption/words — sure, that can be true. But we are National Geographic’s global photo community. We not only want to share beautiful photos, but also thoughtful captions that educate and inspire. We want to be better than everyone else. Because we are Your Shot.
David Y. Lee
National Geographic Your Shot
Associate Photo Editor