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Chasing Moments

This assignment ran from Oct 2 to Oct 23, 2017.

We crave stories. The craft is deeply ingrained in the human psyche. We are not just the tool-making animal; chimps can do that as well, after all. We are the storytelling animal.  We are the only species with the ability to reach into the past and talk about the future.  It’s what allows us to pass on knowledge and wisdom. And that trait is at the core of every great photographer. Every good shot captures a unique moment in time to tell a story. Sometimes you have to chase those moments, and sometimes you have to wait a while. 

The one thing that matters is timing. That fraction of a second is the difference between a great storytelling moment and an average image. Timing requires patience. You learn to watch and wait and shoot and develop a sense of timing. “Chasing moments” is really about the art of observation.  In photography, “chasing” means paying attention—mentally slowing down and being able to anticipate when that decisive moment will appear. If you see the moment through your lens, it means you probably missed it. Your shutter needs to be up when all the elements come together to make a truly great storytelling image. 

Inspiration can come from discomfort. When you get out of your comfort zone, waiting for that great image can mean physical discomfort like sitting in freezing temperatures or getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. It can also mean emotional discomfort as you step into the shoes of others and gain a deeper understanding of a multitude of narratives.  Chasing moments can create empathy. And empathy is the wellspring of creativity.

But tunnel vision can be the death of creativity. We can get so obsessed with one idea that we close ourselves to everything else around us.  Chasing moments also means exploring, whether that be visiting the same place at different times of day, or simply looking at a scene from every angle. It’s all about seeing things from a different perspective.  

So turn around, get some fresh perspective. Sometimes, that amazing image is just behind you. 

Deadline for submissions is Monday, October 23rd at 12:00 pm EST.

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

Curated by:

Ami Vitale
National Geographic Photographer
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Closed

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  • 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 Nov 13, 2017.
Thank you for your contributions!

Facebook Live with Ami Vitale

Posted nov 10, 2017

Facebook Live with Ami Vitale.

Facebook Live #2

Posted nov 10, 2017

Hello all!

Today at 3pm EST we'll be having one more Facebook live with assignment editor Ami Vitale on the NGM Facebook page.  Ami will be talking about her favorite photos from this assignment and discussing what it's like to curate a Your Shot assignment that has had over 10k submissions! 

Patience Goes a Long Way

Posted oct 19, 2017

Every good photograph tells a story by capturing a unique moment in time. The truth is, very rarely do we “chase” moments. Most of the time, photography is about finding the right location and then anticipating what might happen. There is a lot of waiting around to see what life might spring on you. Light is also an important part of powerful photography, so going at the right time of day or night makes a difference. Patience goes a long way. 

The images favorited so far have some common themes, even if the subjects are entirely different. Each photographer captured a compelling moment because they waited for their subject to be in the right space at the right time. Think about this as you walk around with your camera, whether that be a DSLR or mobile device. The best camera is the one you have with you, so take your time, slow down, observe, and be ready when that defining moment flashes by.

Live with Ami Vitale on facebook

Posted oct 6, 2017

For those who missed the live we did with Ami Vitale on Facebook you may view it below. Ami talks about her approach to capturing moments when she is in the field and how patience can go a long way in improving your photography.

Facebook Live

Posted oct 6, 2017

Hello all,

Today we will be launching a Facebook Live with National Geographic photographer and editor of the Chasing Moments assignment, Ami Vitale! Ami will be going live at 12 pm EST on the National Geographic Magazine Facebook page. We'll share the live link once the video. Feel free to join the discussion and ask questions about what's the best way to capture a moment and how does Ami approach the idea of photographing moments with her own work. 

Thanks and see you at 12 pm EST!

Ami Vitale

Ami Vitale

National Geographic Photographer
Ami Vitale's journey as a photographer, writer and filmmaker has taken her to over 90 countries where she has witnessed civil unrest and violence, but also surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit. She has lived in mud huts and war zones, contracted malaria, and donned a panda suit—all in keeping with her philosophy of “living the story.” She is an Ambassador for Nikon and a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine and has garnered prestigious awards including multiple prizes from World Press Photos, the International Photographer of the Year prize, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting and named Magazine Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographer's Association, among others. Vitale now comes home to Montana in between making films and shooting stories about the planet’s most pressing issues, including wildlife on the edge of extinction, climate change-precipitated migration, and the struggles and triumphs of the human spirit.