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The Faceless Portrait

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Published Feb 9, 2015 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 27 Contributors

    27 photos selected by

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    women vegetable traders in the market Siti Khatijah Kota Bharu

    #khadijah #kelantan #siti #pasar #malaysia

    I was happy to see the incredible creativity in this assignment, but it was also something that I expected. Something I did not expect was to be introduced so intimately into your worlds—to see portraits of hard work, of illness, of family rituals and relationships.

    I loved being reminded of the way an image portraying something small and simple, such as Kerri-Jo Stewart photographing the top of her friend’s head, could tell you so much about an individual. 

    And an image that included more context—a young student and waitress in Vietnam, carrying six plates of food—told me less about the individual and more about the culture. The way we use these context clues means that what you choose to show in each image and what you choose to leave out could make a world of difference.

    Dinner time with the 2 year old. Taken on an iPhone 6 with one of the default filters on. Turned ...

    Editor's Note

    A simple and straight forward image of a sweet and relatable moment- kids and their vegetables. N... More

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    World of it's own

    #hair #world #estonia #grey #estonian

    Editor's Note

    The bright red in the wall and throughout the curlers and pins gives you no choice but to stop and look. The sweet care that goes into the process keeps me looking. And your choice composition is w... More

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    Using the sun to paint my shadow on the rocks is not that different than using dyes to create pic...

    #mountain #sungraph #arizona #desert #rocks #selfportrait #scottsdale #sunset

    Occasionally, I print out photographs and write little notes on them, which get put in a box, and...

    #faceless #letter #portrait #film

    This photo was captured at Taman Ujung Water Palace in Seraya, Indonesia. The buildings in the co...

    #palace #priest #indonesia #hindu #offerings #religion #architecture #water #bali #seraya #culture

    Editor's Note

    I love the way the light falls across the Hindu Priest. The symmetry and depth of the columns provides a quiet, wonderful balance to the scene. Beautiful image.

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    .

    #summer #summer13 #croatia #places #people #travel #roadtrip_europe

    This is the perfect representation of my son and grandma. My son loves to dress up and have fun ...

    #costumes #hugthoseyoulove #anticipatethemoment #grandparents #family #halloween_2014

    I love the images that showed me a portrait of a place, an age group, a profession. Had he been in his bedroom or out on a playground the picture of the boy with his hands up through his shirt may have told a different story. Without that context, it was boiled down to a portrait of childhood that many of us could relate to. Maybe some of us still get stuck in our shirts.

    Just a playful moment!

    #child #lifestyle #portrait #color

    There are times when there's a face required for something to get appreciated but when it com...

    #nitin_jain #street_art #black_and_white #paris #art #emotions #the_faceless_portrait

    This moment was captured as we watched a float plane land and then take off down the lake. These ...

    #sunrise #lakeclarknationalpark #alaska #morning #symmetry #twins #sky #midnightsun

    My sister is beautiful. She has travelled to many countries, spoken amongst some of the literary ...

    #hair #health #alopecia #identity #confidence #women #baldness #portrait #photography

    Editor's Note

    The window light is stunning, and the change in the wall gives context to a room, and makes it feel more intimate, though the walls are barren. The way the light falls onto the hair to the right an... More

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    I taught art and photography classes at a school for the Deaf in Kingston, Jamaica. This is a ph...

    #student #classroom #kingston #art #jamaica #faceless_portrait #school #portrait #girl

    In Dubrovnik, a woman hangs out her laundry in the late afternoon sun. This work has continued t...

    #work #dubrovnik #people #culture #laundry

    This is a portrait of my mother in her bedroom. While we were talking about the past, something ...

    #memories

    A boy looking at a man through a window.

    #streetphotography #man #pink #faceless #shadow #candid #street #portrait #boy

    Editor's Note

    I love this image for the color and layers that pull you in and keep your eyes circling. But I es... More

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    Image of my grandparents on their way to the church to renew their vows for their 50th anniversary.

    #exit #silhouettes #entrance #grandparents #marriage #anniversary #walk

    Editor's Note

    This image is so sweetly irresistible. The bright teal softened in the darkness, the home I imagine full of wonderful things collected over 50 years. I love the umbrellas on the wall and the flower... More

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    My granny's daily meal. Every morning she used to eat bread, but when asked she would give out di...

    #faceless #faceless_assignment

    A waitress, who is a student on her part-time job at a local restaurant, manages to bring dishes ...

    #student #vietnamese #faceless #hanoi #vietnam #waitress #labor #asian_student #part_time_job

    A Nepalese worker welding Circular Iron support for the running Bride Expansion works at Balkhu, ...

    #iron_works #nepal #kathmandu #construction #road_expansion #balkhu #bridge_expansion #iron_man

    I stumbled upon this gentleman right as the train was arriving. The wind forced him to hold onto ...

    #nyc #faceless #blackandwhite #anticipatethemeoment #newyork #portrait

    Editor's Note

    This type of faceless portrait was probably one of the trickier ones to conquer in this assignment. Silhouettes and shadows can be easier to find, this accidental type of faceless portrait flashes ... More

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    People are hanging out by the newly restored Yongding river in the outskirts of Beijing. For cent...

    #suburb #building #construction #project #change #river #yongding #explore #china #beijing #recovery

    Ion is one of the few Romanian World War 2 veterans. The 91 years old man lives with his wife in ...

    #old #ww2veteran #people #ww2 #poverty

    Studio portrait illustrating the colourful character of an inspirational woman!

    #hair #faceless #dye #nose #portrait #glasses #color

    In life there are cold and dark days that at times we would like to disappear; yes, disappear fro...

    #mexican #bouquet #indigenous #mexico #faceless #huichol #flowers #portrait #girl #culture #ajijic

    Portrait of our little family :)

    #bw #dog #portrait #smallcats #animals #cat

    Early morning swimmer enters the perfectly calm waters of Laacher See (Germany), passing a nice t...

    #swimmer #laacher_see #morning #lake

    Editor's Note

    I don't know if this is a composition many photographers would have chosen, and that is exactly what makes it so special to me. To have the tree dead center with the swimmer weighting the image to ... More

    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel

    This story takes us all over the world, through a myriad of ages and experiences. I found with each photo that I tried to put myself in the subject's place: What would it be like to have a twin? Or three pets? How long would it take me to put my hair in curlers? I never knew a grandmother, but in Mel Karlberg’s photo I learned about what that relationship could mean. The facelessness of each portrait did exactly what I had hoped it would and allowed me to place myself, my friends, and my family into the stories in a new way.

    The names or faces of these people may always be a mystery. But we get to live in, relate to, and learn from their experiences and stories through these photos. And that is a special gift!

    About the Editor
    Marie McGrory
    Producer, Nat Geo Travel
    Marie McGrory is a Producer with National Geographic Travel. She believes photography can help us find the moments, feelings, and stories that transcend cultural boundaries.

    Photographers Published In the Story