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Bright Ideas in Action

This assignment ran from Sep 21 to Oct 9, 2015.

What if you could change the world for the better? People are doing it every day in ways both big and small. They’re taking their best ideas and putting them into action now. They’re working on ways to improve communities and help their neighbors. They’re looking at everyday challenges from a new perspective and creating smart solutions.

Your assignment is to take a closer look at the world around you, and show us the countless ways people (and maybe even you) are turning bright ideas into real world innovation. Everything from creating electricity from rocks, to converting used coffee grounds into fuel, or even transforming footsteps into light. Here’s your chance to help us uncover these stories and capture how innovative thinking is powering the world. For more examples go to

This assignment is the second of three assignments launched in conjunction with The Great Energy Challenge, a National Geographic initiative in partnership with Shell. The assignments and partnership as a whole are designed to make us stop and think about the role of energy in our lives. As you are taking your pictures, be sure to visit for inspiration and more information.

In return for the Sponsor's support of this Assignment, National Geographic may provide images from the Assignment to the Sponsor for its use on its website, social media platforms, and other outlets to promote and publicize the Assignment.

Curated by:

Monica C. Corcoran
Former Director, Your Shot
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 16, 2015.
Thank you for your contributions!

Do Some Research

Posted oct 1, 2015

Thanks to everyone who has submitted to this assignment. It’s tough to capture innovative ideas in action and have it be a great photo.

The first step is to identify the project or idea that you’d like to photograph. Start by researching your local community and see if there are interesting projects that relate to alternative energy or energy consumption. Maybe there’s a grassroots group that is using recycled materials in a new way.

Check out the website of your local government—do they have any programs that fit this theme. You might be surprised to learn of something happening in your own neighborhood.

Think about your own daily needs—food, water, shelter, electricity—are there ways you or your community deal with these issues in a unique way. Does a local restaurant recycle their cooking oil for biodiesel fuel? Did a neighbor come up with a really efficient way to water their garden?

It doesn’t have to be a grand idea because even small ideas can have a major impact. Look for the hidden gems that change the way you live.

Monica C. Corcoran

Monica C. Corcoran

Former Director, Your Shot
Monica C. Corcoran is an award-winning photography producer with 20 years experience in visual storytelling. She is a former director at National Geographic for the Your Shot photo community.