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Inside Access

This assignment ran from Oct 5 to Oct 26, 2015.

The first rule in photography: The photographer has to be there to make the picture. Yet getting there is more than half the effort. Working on a National Geographic story requires a great deal of research, planning, and preparation, as well as an undeterred effort to gain permissions and permits and negotiate access. Remove those obstacles from the process, and photographers would be able to channel much more of their energy into the actual act of photographing.

And so our best advice is that photographers should photograph what they know best. Where are you? What do you know? What do you see? What’s in front of you? Perhaps it’s your profession, your hobby, something that defines you, or perhaps it’s your observations about something or someone you know well.

Take us there—inside, beyond the gates, backstage, and behind the scenes—with a photo that says, “You should have been there,” or, “Wish you were here.”

Curated by:

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 Nov 13, 2015.
Thank you for your contributions!

Technical Problems with the Inside Access story

Posted nov 7, 2015

Hello all,

We've had multiple technical issues that have affected many areas within Your Shot including the assignments. We have to fix these issues before we can publish this story. Thanks for your patience and understanding.  It’s final publish date will be November 13th, there will be no delays beyond that date.

Thank you again for your time, submissions, and keeping the conversation alive in the discussion board.



Final days

Posted oct 20, 2015

We’re coming down to the final days of this assignment. It has been great to see submissions from around the world. Thank you for participating.

We’ve been working on the offline editing (selecting) of the images that have been submitted. We see images that fit the Inside Access theme of this assignment but unfortunately due to the lack of technical proficiency many of those pictures do not move forward in the selection process. Technical issues include; poor exposure, poor processing of the image, over processing of the image or even images that just aren’t in sharp enough focus. Keep in mind that in addition to showing views from within places that are generally overlooked and difficult to access, the assignment is meant to showcase your greatest photography work. So the quality of the photography is as important as what you are photographing.

We find that many of the pictures you show us using your “inside access” are not complete pictures. Often your angle of view or the way you have composed the image restricts what we see in the image. Hence you aren’t providing enough information for the viewer to understand what they are looking at. There is a fine line between too much and too little. In some images we see that key element in the place or the scene has not been brought forward enough in the composition. Remember in your framing to include essential elements that will communicate a sense of place. How would images made inside the United States Supreme Court, inside the cargo hold of a commercial aircraft or inside a religious ceremony be different? Each place is unique. Show us what is unique about each place and situation and take the picture a step further by focusing on a moment unique to that place. Show us what you see there.

Once you are “inside”, the fun of your photography begins. One thing that you are showing us in your pictures is your excitement and passion for photography. Thanks for sharing that too.


Fritz and Kathya

Fitting The Theme

Posted oct 14, 2015

Thanks everyone for sharing your pictures. We are seeing some good examples of the photographer having some exclusive inside access, which is key to this assignment. Take us to a place that we might not otherwise know about or be able to get in to, past the gate-keeper so to speak.

Photography assignments like this give us a unique world survey. It’s exciting to see a collection of pictures that take us inside culture, religion, location, and workplace. And many nice photos have been submitted that are colorful and beautiful but those don’t fit the theme of “inside access”. Show us something, it doesn’t have to be spectacular in a grand way but a picture that you see that others might not and in a place or moment that may be inaccessible for most.

And getting inside, being there is when the photography begins. Distill the scene down to a composition that uses each element of the frame to communicate, inform, expose and reveal in a way that only photography can.

Inside Access

Posted oct 5, 2015

I always find that when I arrive in a place to photograph—and it could be someone’s home or the Hanford Nuclear Reservation—the people who are there on a daily basis have a front-row seat to witness that which, after all the planning and communications, I can only hope happens when I am there for a day, a week, or even a month. When I was at Hanford trying to photograph the decommissioned nuclear reactors from a boom that was 80 feet high (an image printed in the December issue of National Geographic magazine), the lineman working with me, who was regularly up on that boom, said, "You should have seen it last week. It was shrouded in fog with just the top poking out." That killed me! That’s the kind of situation I hope for when planning my visit.

Most often, the simplest little things make a picture memorable. Maybe it’s an interesting habit that a family member practices each day, such as winding a clock. Or maybe it’s the way the laundry is folded or a meal is prepared. Perhaps it is tai chi in the morning in some peculiar spot or pigeons flying from their rooftop roost. Maybe you're a waiter in a VIP room or a bouncer at a club. Take us inside, behind the scenes, and show us something unique that comes with inside access and knowledge of the place and subject. The success of the photo will come from sharing your insider's view and from the exceptional way that you convey the moment, designed in a thoughtful, well-seen composition with technical proficiency.

Photography that moves the viewer often depends on close knowledge and a personal point of view. Your assignment is to use your intimate knowledge and access to show us something that would otherwise be overlooked or rare to see.

Fritz Hoffmann and Kathya Landeros

Fritz Hoffmann and Kathya Landeros

Fritz Hoffmann is an American photographer known for documentary style narratives that portray society, culture, the environment and global economics. A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC photographer, Fritz has photographed numerous magazine stories on subjects ranging from China’s Shangrila to America’s Superfund. Kathya Maria Landeros is a photographer and educator whose work explores Mexican-American identity and the immigrant experience. Informed by her bi-cultural upbringing, she has photographed in established Latino communities in the United States and in Mexico as a Fulbright Fellow.