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Best of the World

This assignment ran from Sep 1 to Sep 22, 2015.

Did you ever wish that a photograph you took could be on the cover of a major magazine?

Your wish might come true.

For this Your Shot assignment, we want you to shoot a cover photo for National Geographic Traveler. We'll publish our favorite from the images submitted on the front of our upcoming December/January issue, which will feature our annual list of places we've named as Best of the World. For the cover, we want you to send us a photo of your best place.

Here are some things to think about:

-Your photograph should demonstrate a strong sense of place. The particular location you've photographed does not have to be immediately recognizable, but the scene should not feel like a generic landscape.

-Remember that magazine covers require a photo with vertical orientation, and that our National Geographic Traveler logo will appear across the top. Busy backgrounds can make type hard to read.

-The very best travel magazine cover photos make readers wish they were in the picture.

-The photograph must have been taken within the last five years.

Curated by:

Maggie Zackowitz
Editor in Chief, National Geographic Traveler Magazine

Leigh Borghesani
Acting Design Director, Traveler Magazine

Carol Enquist
Acting Director of Photography, Traveler Magazine
Assignment Status
  • Open

    Everyone’s welcome to contribute their best shot to open assignments. Learn more.
  • Closed

    Completed assignments—with our favorite photos included—will be published online. Learn more.
  • Published

    Once the submission period is over, we'll review all contributions and select our favorite images to be included in the story. Learn more.
Published Oct 10, 2015.
Thank you for your contributions!

The Finalists Covers!

Posted nov 18, 2015

Don't forget to check here to see the 15 finalists with their cover design. Check back to the Best of the World story page at 10am EST tomorrow to find out which photo was chosen for the cover! 

Grab My Attention

Posted sep 16, 2015

I just want to tell you how thrilled we are by the response to the Traveler Best of the World assignment. We are going to have such a hard time choosing a single image for our December/January cover—but thank you for giving us so much to choose from!

It has been really fun for me to jump into the comments section these past weeks to talk to a lot of you. It seems that the biggest hurdle for many people has been our requirement for a vertical (portrait) orientation. Be honest: How many of you just wish we'd turn the magazine on its side so it's a horizontal, and call it a day? We understand that nobody usually shoots this way. Even professional photographers would rather shoot horizontal images because it lets them get so much more into the picture. And we have to crop them, too, to get a vertical that will work. But now at least you know my challenge every month. It's hard to get a good cover!

Our main criterion, of course, is always that it be a great photo with beautiful composition. But, as my colleagues Carol and Leigh have already mentioned in their Editors' Updates, the winning photo also has to:

• Be able to carry the Traveler logo across the top and, across the side, some cover lines to promote the stories in the issue (so it can't be too busy or patterned where that lettering would go, or those words will be hard to read). I've actually been trying to run fewer cover lines since I started as editor in chief this past May. I like to show as much of the photo as possible.

• Be about a place. I've seen a lot of beautiful portraits of people and pictures of animals in your submissions, but those seem like they're meant more for our sister publication, National Geographic magazine. They're not having a cover contest! We are a travel magazine, so what we need is a gorgeous picture of a place.

• Attract attention on the newsstand. Go to a Barnes & Noble, a Target, or any news agent, and look at the magazine rack. There are hundreds of titles screaming for your attention. What makes you look at a particular one—and make you want to buy it? A very dark or monochromatic photo will get lost next to all the competition. Some people have asked if a black-and-white photo has any chance of winning. I can answer that with a firm, "Maybe!" But B&W photos tend to be a little quieter, and quiet doesn't work well on a newsstand. Color makes me think of travel, and it makes me think of Traveler.

Hope this helps! Keep on shooting! We are loving what you do.

—Maggie Zackowitz, Editor in Chief, National Geographic Traveler

P.S. You now have two more submissions for the last week of the assignment. So if you already maxed out at three, you have two more shots at making the cover! 

Unexpected Views

Posted sep 11, 2015

Wow! So many photos to look through and I have been seeing some nice ones. Please keep at it, but keep in mind that the photo must evoke a sense of place, fantastic light, something or someone to draw you in, unexpected views of something iconic, room for some type whether it be on the right or the left and also space at the top for our National Geographic logo and please have it be a vertical shot. For me, a figure (they don't need to be big) within a photo brings me into the scene more quickly and can celebrate the scale of the place. Try and avoid dark images because they wont pop off the newsstand shelf. We want people to stop in their tracks and imagine themselves being there. Have fun!

—Leigh Borghesani, Acting Design Director, Traveler Magazine

"I'd like to be there."

Posted sep 4, 2015

I'm so pleased to see that the Your Shot community is as excited as we are at Traveler about this assignment and that so many of you are contributing to our search for the November 2015/January 2016 Best of the World cover!

Having been involved with the Traveler cover selection for many years, I know what a challenge it is to find the right photo, and I think this is a good time to reiterate what we look for in a cover. Since we are a travel magazine, the photographs that work best are those with a sense of place. We want the cover to transport the viewer to that destination, to entice them to pick up the magazine and say to themselves, "I'd like to be there." The reader wants to picture themselves in this other place, away from their everyday routine. The focus of the photograph should be on the place, not on people or animals. The destination doesn't have to be undiscovered, but the photograph needs to be special. The quality of light is really important—beautiful light can transform a scene from average to magical. And the photograph needs to be sharp and of the highest quality in order to reproduce in print.

Once you have the photograph, there are other considerations that make the process even more challenging. The Traveler logo has to appear across the top of the image, so vertical images tend to work best. The photo needs to provide some clean space to include a few lines about other stories appearing in the issue (coverlines). If the photo is too busy or cluttered, you won't be able to read the coverlines text. We've received a lot of beautiful photos that, unfortunately, won't work as a cover because there's no space for the Traveler logo or the coverlines text. It's really important to keep that in mind before you submit your photos.

We've added a mock cover to the assignment introduction that I think will help you visualize if your photograph will work on the cover. You can also visit this post about our Best of the World cover from 2014. It's been fun to see what everyone has submitted so far and I can't wait to see "your shot" on our "Best of the World" cover. Good luck!

-Carol Enquist, Acting Director of Photography, Traveler Magazine

The Rules

Posted sep 1, 2015

For your photo to be considered for the cover of National Geographic Traveler Magazine you must follow these rules:

- You must follow our photo guidelines. The most important one being not to add or remove objects from the original image. We will request unedited files from the finalists.

- The photo must have been taken within the last five years.

- We encourage submissions to be vertical (portrait) orientation.  We will accept horizontal images, but they will have to be large files that can be cropped into a vertical. This may make it more difficult to be chosen for the cover. 

- Your caption should reflect why you consider this destination the "best of the world."

Maggie Zackowitz

Maggie Zackowitz

Editor in Chief, National Geographic Traveler Magazine
Before taking over as Editor in Chief of National Geographic Traveler in April, I spent 31 years at National Geographic Magazine—a place where I learned just how important photography is to storytelling. Usually I just take pictures of my dogs, though. I attended Arizona State University but I am that rare thing: a native Washingtonian.

Leigh Borghesani

Leigh Borghesani

Acting Design Director, Traveler Magazine
Leigh Borghesani has been with Traveler magazine for 21 years. She is probably the only person on earth who is not on Facebook and is just fine with it.

Carol Enquist

Carol Enquist

Acting Director of Photography, Traveler Magazine
Carol Enquist has been a photo editor at Traveler Magazine for 30 years. Having traveled the world vicariously through the images of many extraordinarily talented photographers, her list of must-sees is long, but a road trip to the national parks of the western U.S. is number one.