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Ocean Encounters

This assignment ran from Jul 10 to Jul 31, 2017.

Hello again to the incredibly talented YS community, I am back! I have yet another challenging, conceptual assignment for you, one that will help you push the boundaries of the yellow rectangle with the big blue! This assignment is meant to help each storyteller out there capture what it feels like to meet the ocean.

The ocean is vast, blue, unrelenting, passionate, and formidable. It swathes 70% of our earth with its life-giving, nutrient-rich waters. Despite being called an unforgiving force of nature, the ocean is how we—how all life—came to be. We all owe one out of two breaths to her; yet so few of us have met her in person or honored her for being the creative source she is.

Regardless of whether you are landlocked or inhabit a coastal city, you know in your blood, sweat and tears, her salty presence. She is within you as much as she is beyond you, and she takes many forms, but in the end all water finds its way back to her. So how does it feel to meet her, to connect to her undulating expanse? What is encountering the ocean like for you? Maybe you work in a textile market and when you die your fabrics indigo you feel the ocean expressing itself, or maybe when you see your child splashing in the bathtub with a toy ship you feel the entire ocean come alive in your house! Your mind and eyes will connect to the ocean as only you can, and I cannot wait to see how.

For those who are divers, snorkelers or submarine pilots, who have deep and profound access to her depths, try to submit images that are unlikely, unexpected perspectives that still portray how you specifically connect to her. This assignment is not just about submitting a beautiful image of the ocean, many of you have already handed such images in for the Pristine Seas assignment, I am looking for something more intimate, emotional, conceptual, and unique. I want to feel what it feels like for you, personally, to meet the ocean. So don’t be afraid to think outside the box, it’s not just about what the lens sees, it is about what your lens sees because of you.

So whether it’s the crushing depths of the Pacific brought alive by a book you’re reading, or emoted in your cat’s eyes in the shallow bubble of a family fishbowl, tell me what it feels like for you to embrace the ocean. 

The ocean is such an incredible force—something that everyone should be able to experience and learn from up close. National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey uses cutting edge technology to bring people face-to-face with the wondrous, mighty creatures of the Pacific Ocean—allowing us to experience the power and beauty of the ocean like never before. Show us your ocean encounter and learn more about National Geographic’s powerful new experience here: Nat Geo Encounter.

SUBMISSION Deadline is July 31, 2017 at 12PM EST.

This assignment is partnering with the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey team. In return for the support of this Assignment, National Geographic may provide images from the Assignment to the Ocean Odyssey project for use on it's website, social media platforms, and other outlets to promote and publicize the Assignment. When the final published story is run, some of the published images may end up being featured on the digital billboard outside of the Ocean Odyssey building with photographer's credit. 

Curated by:

Asher Jay
National Geographic Explorer and Creative Conservationist
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 Aug 15, 2017.
Thank you for your contributions!

In Case You Missed It: Underwater Beauty assignment

Posted apr 13, 2018

In case you missed it, Your Shot is currently running an “Underwater Beauty” assignment curated by photographer and filmmaker Michaela Skovranova. As the producer for this assignment, the submissions are inspiring me to try underwater photography. Even though I am exploring the Earth as I curate my “While on a Walk…” assignment, I love finding myself transported to another world as I look at your submissions. I love how peaceful it is. I love how seeing underwater beauty makes me feel.

This assignment is tougher — and I knew it would be. Not everyone in our community is an underwater photographer, so if you are reading this Editor’s Update, this assignment is for you because you have already participated in our previous underwater assignment. I love Michaela’s work, and I wanted to inspire you. If you haven’t checked out her work, please do. For example, watch her showreel. I just find her work magical.

We are opening the assignment for a fourth submission because we want to see more underwater beauty through your eyes. And because I want to keep being inspired by you. Submission deadline is Wednesday April 18th at 12PM EST.

David Y. Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

"Underwater Beauty" assignment

Posted apr 2, 2018

Hi everyone — In case you missed it, we have launched a new assignment called “Underwater Beauty” which is curated by photographer and filmmaker Michaela Skovranova. Her portfolio is breathtaking, so magical. Every time I look at her work, I just want to jump into the water and disappear into another world. She also has a wonderful blog ("Ocean Wanderings") about pursuing underwater photography. If I didn’t have this job, I would definitely be considering it. Michaela is just that inspiring for me.

On a side note, I am also curating an assignment called “Inspiring Experiences” that I hope you will also participate in. I am curating this assignment with my mentor and former editor Jenn Poggi.

David Y. Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Facebook Q&A with a Your Shot photographer

Posted jul 26, 2017

Join us tomorrow at 3pm E.T. for a Q&A session with Your Shot photographer Marc Henauer on capturing underwater images. Learn how he prepares for various situations and selects camera gear—and get inspired to submit to the "Ocean Encounters" assignment.

View the Q&A Here at 3pm E.T.

Editor's Update #2

Posted jul 21, 2017

The quality of submissions for this assignment has been absolutely brilliant so far! My job of curating the final story will be very hard indeed. Thank you being innovative, and for not being afraid to see the blue marble differently.

I have been consistently posting updates on the discussion board so that people can draw inspiration from my selection of editor’s favorites. I have tried to explain why they stand out to me, so this update will merely consolidate what a lot of you have already heard me say.

1. Submit something no one else has. Or, find inspiration in someone else’s submission, and then go out and try to push the limits in new ways.
2. As a technical note, using filters or watermarks will prevent me from using selecting the image for publication in the final story. Several amazing images have been tarnished by the application of large watermarks on them, so please keep this in mind during the next wave of submissions.
3. There was an incredible image submitted this past week by Franco Balfi, who chanced upon a rare encounter – an entire pod of sperm whales sleeping like vertical logs in the open ocean. It has been trending online in various news conduits so if you have not seen the story, here’s the picture: Those who love cetaceans are sure to agree on how wonderful this unique encounter is. The fact it was submitted to this assignment makes my day!
4. And along those lines, you know how a picture can be worth a thousand words? Well, this image certainly is:
5. Each column of water in the ocean is a silo of different stories. Ask yourselves, what hasn’t been covered by other submissions yet? One recent set of submissions showcases the microscopic world. So glad someone went there! Capture moments with mega fauna, but don’t forget the micro world! Zoom in beyond what is visible to the naked eye.

I’m going to list some of my favorite images below. I encourage you to look through them and think about how you can create something original. As I said, there have been so many incredible submissions that it’s going to be difficult to make my final choices for the story! But keep up the extraordinary work—I can’t wait to see what the next tide of submissions washes up next.

Sea stories:
Night Sky:


Imaginative capture:


Aerial views:

Surface character:
Close up:

Pushing the boundaries of the narrative and concept in amazing ways:

National Geographic Encounter

Posted jul 10, 2017


National Geographic Encounter is a first-of-its-kind immersive entertainment experience that opens with Ocean Odyssey and utilizes groundbreaking technology to transport audiences on an incredible underwater journey. Embark on a breathtaking odyssey across the Pacific Ocean and encounter its greatest wonders and mightiest creatures.  Come face-to-face with an undersea world teeming with life—from great white sharks and humpback whales, to Humboldt squids and sea lions—all in the heart of Times Square! Developed with an Oscar ® Emmy,® and GRAMMY® Award-winning team, this never-before-seen undersea experience is designed to take your breath away.


Follow us to start your underwater journey today!

Facebook: National Geographic Encounter

Twitter: @NatGeoEncounter

Instagram: @NatGeoEncounter

Official Site:

Asher Jay

Asher Jay

National Geographic Explorer and Creative Conservationist
Asher Jay, is saving the world’s threatened wildlife—with creativity. Her cause-driven art, sculpture, design installations, films, and advocacy advertising campaigns bring attention to everything from the blood ivory trade to plastic pollution. Jay’s upcoming projects will tackle biodiversity loss due to wildlife trafficking and climate change. Tackling issue after issue, Jay’s projects have become global sensations. Yet her ultimate goal is to motivate the one person she believes holds the real power to determine nature’s fate. You.