While on assignment, there comes a time where we may begin questioning ourselves. Over-thinking the story. Believing we’re seeing the narrative, but worrying we’re only seeing the surface. This also happens to me from time to time while photographing stories for National Geographic magazine.
During the two weeks of editing your images, I could sense that some of you felt the same way. After beginning, many of you began to move beyond the obvious interpretations of the theme of “I Love You.” And you arriving to that sacred place where art, poetry, life and love intersect.
You may be wondering why the final edits for I Love You did not touch so much upon the expected: fingers gently held into the shape of a heart, a couple walking along a beach holding hands, or padlocks on a bridge. To be compelling, photography has to be much more than the expected.
What I looked for most while looking through your submissions were the subtleties—images posing questions that could be answered with beauty and love. In such photographs, the moment had to be well composed. Successful photos are where design, content, composition, lighting, and meaning coalesce into one image that is filled with emotion, connections, and purpose.
Each of you clearly worked so hard and created lovely images. The final selections share deep emotions, touching on topics that are pressing in our global society today.
Within these images you will find the comfort of love among families who have lost their homeland. The beauty of birth, and the gentle, powerful touches of love as we move towards death. The need for love when hatred and indifference rear in unpleasantness. The whimsical dance of two seals, symbolizing our hope that all living species need and feel the natural urge we humans are given at birth, that of unconditional love.
I want to thank each of you for your commitment to this latest YourShot assignment. Wherever the journey of life takes you, remember to be fascinated, giving in all, to all you see.
John Stanmeyer is a humanist, photojournalist, Emmy nominated filmmaker and field recordist dedicated to social and political issues that define our times. Over the last decade, John has worked nearly exclusively with National Geographic magazine, producing over 14 stories for the magazine and resulting in 10 covers. Between 1998 and ...