The Story of Hunger and Hope
Editor's Note: National Geographic and Feeding America are partnering to tell the true stories of the people who experience hunger and those who are working to solve the problem. Photographer Annie Griffiths is on assignment for Feeding America and will be running this Your Shot assignment concurrently. The assignment is open to everyone in the community and the final story will reflect the global nature of this issue. However, a selection of Your Shot photos that specifically depict hunger in America will be published in a National Geographic book, in partnership with Feeding America.
This Your Shot assignment will be unlike any of the others we have run thus far. It will push you out of your comfort zones as photographers. It will force you to tackle an important issue and document what is happening in your very own community. You will be asked to follow many of the principles that guide photojournalists out in the field, such as showing respect for your subjects by talking with them and learning their stories before taking their pictures. In other words, get intimate with your subjects so that you can better show what's really happening in their lives.
This assignment is about the story of hunger and hope. It is not about farming or agriculture or homelessness. It is about the people who suffer from hunger, as well as the people who help them survive it. It’s about realizing that hunger affects people from all races and all ages—and from every corner of the globe. Hunger doesn’t care if you're from the wealthiest nation in the world or the poorest. It’s about understanding that a person’s situation can change at any time, and that often they have no control over it. It’s about realizing that together, we can overcome almost anything. For more information, view the "Editor's Update" tab below.
Thank you for your contributions!
What's Going On?
As I look through all your fantastic submissions, I am concerned that so few images have compelling or even adequate captions. I thought it would be helpful to give some pointers on what makes a good caption. Remember, a poor caption can keep a photo from being chosen because the editor literally doesn’t know what he or she is looking at. And a great caption can inform the editor about crucial information to look for in the image…making it a winner!
In addition to being photographers, we should also be good reporters. A caption should rarely be about the photographer, so take yourself out of the story as much as possible. The important facts to include are the classic "What, Where, When and How” details. A good caption gives background and context that help us understand what is going on. In photojournalism, what’s important is the story, not a personal philosophy or a description of that day in the photographer’s life.
Finally, when titling a photo on a serious subject such as Hunger and Hope, avoid using puns or disrespectful titles.
To those of you who have taken great care with your captions, congratulations and thank you. It has been amazingly helpful as I have edited your work.
It's Time to Commit
In looking through nearly 3,000 current submissions for this assignment, I'm delighted to see some real creativity. I’m especially moved by images that show empathy and moments of real connection and hope. It is really easy to snap shots of sad and seemingly hopeless situations. I'll tell you honestly that I won’t be interested in those images. Great images require a commitment of time and creativity that honor the subject and tell a compassionate story. This may be the most challenging assignment that you have ever participated in. I have confidence that the serious photographers among you will rise to the challenge!
I've been shooting on this assignment now for two weeks and want to share a few things that I've learned along the way. I've learned that any number of circumstances can leave a person in need of food assistance. I've learned that this is a painful and often embarrassing reality for hardworking people. I've seen the kindness of thousands of volunteers who step up to cook or distribute or deliver meals to those in need. I've seen the relief on parents' faces as the heartbreaking burden of hungry children is lifted and they share the simple joy of meals together and full stomachs.
This is a journalistic assignment and I urge all of you who hope to become photojournalists to commit to spending time with volunteers, hungry families, and proud working people who are going through a rough time. Please know that powerful images are earned, not grabbed on the street. We have ten days to amaze! Please spend that time not going through old photos that may fit the food category, but instead investing time and empathy in real people who search for hope.
Chef Mario Batali will be serving as a contributing editor for this assignment. Read Mario’s guest blog post to learn more about why he’s getting involved and how you can join us in the fight against hunger.
National Geographic editors and I have been truly moved by your extraordinary shots of hunger and hope in this assignment: the sensitive and respectful portraits from around the globe; the delighted smiles on the faces of children, as well as the despair; and your compelling storytelling through color, composition, and light.
So many of our fellow human beings face hunger and food insecurity, something I’ve reflected on quite often this month while traveling to food banks across America to capture the stories and faces of hunger in the U.S. Back at National Geographic Society headquarters, staff rallied and mounted the Great National Geographic Food Drive, a friendly competition among staff to see which group could donate the most food to the Capital Area Food Bank. The total: 9,729 meals for D.C. families and those in need.
As we move toward our national holiday of Thanksgiving, on which we give thanks for what we have and remember to help those in need, I’d like to challenge the U.S. Your Shot community to reach out and feed the hungry.
Show us images of the people in your hometown who face hunger and of those who help the struggling. Show us the hopefulness too. There is a solution to hunger—and it starts with people feeding people.
According to Hunger in America 2014, Feeding America’s in-depth study of the people they serve, more than 46 million Americans—including 12 million children—rely on the Feeding America network to help put food on the table. These food banks, food pantries and meal programs give hope to the hungry. These organizations allow individuals and families to make it through another day and give them strength through nourishment so that they can start to think about a future without hunger.
We want to see images of the people in your community who face hunger themselves or help others who are struggling. Here are some things to think about while researching and/or photographing for this assignment.
HOPE: What is being done and what can be done.
CHANGE: What is hunger today? Has there been any progress on this issue?
COMPASSION: Displays of kindness, caring, and generosity
COMMUNITY: Solidarity and togetherness: people from all walks of life supporting one another
RESILIENCE: Displays of strength and courage in the face of hard times
Learn more from Annie in this blog post.