Nearly every person in the world has a relationship to trees. They provide a vital balance for many aspects of our existence. For this assignment I wanted to see "your tree" and be taken into the mysteries and majesty that you have encountered.
I was not disappointed.
From an intimate reflection in a raindrop to otherworldly nightscapes reaching the Milky Way, I was transported. Your photographs had the power to reflect not only your experience with your surroundings but also to impart your emotions.
I want to send a special thank you to the Tree of Life discussion board. Everyone went above and beyond to encourage each other’s work. The discussions that were sparked ranged from philosophical and spiritual, to environmental, personal, and technical. I watched work evolve from an idea to executions. That is exactly what happens in the offices of National Geographic when stories are being developed.
I want to also commend the range of captioning that included factual descriptions, spiritual beliefs, personal stories, scientific data, and even poems. I had no idea the breadth of work and ideas that would be bestowed upon us and I am more than proud of what we created.
I want to expand a little on my final selections and how I got to this point. Over the past three weeks I have looked at the Your Shot site everyday. This was my first introduction to the work. Then each week I was sent the same files that were submitted to the site so I could view them from my computer, where I could not see how many likes an image had received and they were anonymous and without captions.
By this time I had seen every image at least twice. After the final submission had come through, I had created a folder of about 275 favorites. From this selection I began to whittle away the collection to ultimately create the final story you see here. When I got down to my favorite 60 I went back to the Your Shot site and reread all the captions.
The images I chose, represent, for me, some of the most unique interpretations of the assignment or in some cases just an absolutely beautiful rendering of a tree.
Keep in mind this story’s selections are only my reactions to your amazing images. I encourage you to take the time to look at all the assignment submissions, as you may find hidden treasures that you respond to. I also encourage you to remember that the process and journey of image making is just as important—if not more important—than the final outcome.
Create your work from the heart, believe in it, then let it go and take a life of its own. The story as it is shown here is just the first step of where the work can go.
Erika Larsen’s work uses photography, video and writing to learn intimately about cultures that maintain strong connections with nature. She has been working as a magazine photographer since 2000 specializing in human-interest stories and sensitive cultural issues and is a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine. Her work has been ...