“Think about the people behind these photos.” Liz Andersen, one of my guest editors told me this and I am forever grateful for the reminder. Never before has editing been so personal, and never before have I felt the abundant weight of these two words: Yes and No. With these words I felt like I was choosing between life and death. I’m being dramatic, but when I thought of the amount of time and energy, the dedication that so many of you went through to create a single image, I can say that Liz, Ivan, Mike, and I are truly humbled.
Throughout the assignment we took great care in examining
your photos, studying each one especially the ones we couldn’t
let go of, even though we knew it wouldn’t make it past another
round. “I just gotta have it!” one of us would say, and
then we would ask Why. Like I said to you during the assignment, “Be
prepared for the why”, I also expected it from us as
your editors. We spent many long nights combing through your photographs, your
absolutely stunning, beyond creative, made us speechless photographs.
So many of you went to such great lengths to make art, but then many of you spent less time on the actual image making. We have a huge stack of the “almosts”, the ones that had minor technical issues in composition or exposure, but became glaring when compared to the photos that worked. The photos that worked are the ones that made sense; the concept and the photograph. This is something Ivan often said in affirmation of a photo, especially the ones that didn’t need a lot of discussion, “It just makes sense.”
The line becomes blurry when you talk about art and what it is. It’s our jobs as photographers to show them that photography is art, that you can have it all. All of you succeeded tenfold. Whether you made it into the story or not, you tried. So many of you expanded your point of view, changed the way you thought and in the end, changed the way you see. That's all we really wanted.
Like Mike said, “Explore your ideas and see what becomes of them. You may realize you’re better than you ever thought you could be.”
Congratulations to all of you. As a community, we learned more from each other and about each other than ever imagined. Thank you.
Jeanne, Liz, Ivan, and Mike
Ivan and Mike visited National Geographic HQ to edit the assignment with Jeanne. Watch the video.
Jeanne photo edits and produces top performing features Photo of the Day and the Daily Dozen. With a degree in photojournalism, she has worked as a photographer in D.C. and S. Korea with former positions at the Smithsonian and the U.S. Dept of Interior. @jeannemodd