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The Pool

This assignment ran from Jul 13 to Aug 3, 2015.

I recently stumbled upon one of the most remarkable books I’ve ever seen. It’s called Pool , by Jihyeon Lee. There are no words, just gloriously rendered pencil illustrations through which Lee evokes a child’s journey from one end of a pool to another. Through fear and trepidation, chaos and cold, we regard a young boy’s chance encounter with a kindred spirit and all of the magic they experience along the way. Using only images Lee manages to create “a wordless masterpiece of space, scale, and silence converging [in] an underwater world of wonder just beneath the reflective surface of ordinary life,” as Maria Popova of Brain Pickings perfectly puts it.

So let’s swim! It’s summer! Let’s dive into the the deep end and wade through the kiddie pool! Let’s make like we’re sea creatures and oogle at the hoards and explore what’s above the surface, below it, and in between through photography! The assignment—for now—is as free-flowing as swimming with your fins on (or off). The only rule is it’s got to be a swimming pool!

As a news photo editor here at Nat Geo I’m very eager for this daily diversion. I’ll take a regular peek at what you’re uploading and engage with you as we develop this story together. In a couple of days I’ll send out an update and see what’s happening with your photographs and where we can direct it, redirect it, or just keep paddling on.

So let’s hit the pool and create the perfect summer photo story together as we take the cool and delicious plunge!

Curated by:

Sherry L. Brukbacher
National Geographic Photo Editor
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 Aug 10, 2015.
Thank you for your contributions!

Surprise Me!

Posted jul 31, 2015

We’re in the final lap, swimmers! With three days left and hundreds of wonderful images to consider for this story, my challenge is just beginning. I’ll be spending most of next week pulling together my edit and, hopefully, surprising you with a beautiful and inspired summer pool tale created by you.

As I browse my favorites so far, I can honestly say that you have nailed the essence and magic of summer pool time. We have diving, floating, and general antics above and below the water, moments of joyful spontaneity, and some creatively artful scenes that I think will inspire a lot of members to try something new.

So for your final challenge I’d like you to take a look at the editor’s favorites and show me what you think is missing. I saw this today and was blown away by the originality of the image and creative thinking that brought it to our assignment. Show me what else we need to round out the options for our final story. Surprise me! Let’s see what you’ve got for your final dip in the pool!

When in Doubt, Shoot

Posted jul 27, 2015

Hello all! Just back from my little vacation in North Carolina, where I confess I did some of my swimming in the sea (with no shark sightings, I’m happy to report). However, knowing the challenge I’ve put before you all, I thought it only fair to throw myself into the pool and try to capture something interesting. As the editor of this assignment I will not contribute images, but I can tell you that I know that no assignment is an easy task. When faced with a set of parameters and restrictions, no matter how broad, setting yourself above the competition is a tough job. But that is the nature of an editorial assignment and a very good exercise for any photographer.

Just a few things to offer in this brief update. First and foremost, know the rules of your assignment and stick to them. Know your equipment and what you plan to do with it: For instance, how can you maximize what you have available to make the most of the task at hand? Remember that light is everything. When in doubt, shoot! And finally, looking at what others are submitting is part of the nature of belonging to the Your Shot community, but try not to spend too much time comparing your submissions to those of others. It will sap your creativity, motivation, and enjoyment.

Keep in mind that if you don’t have access to a pool right now, or it’s not summer where you live, there could be something fun in your archive to share. I’ve also seen some frozen pools and chilly/steamy winter scenes that are just delightful and make a very nice contribution to the mix!

So, as we approach 5,000 submissions (!), I will continue to pore over your pool photos daily; I don’t intend to miss a single one. I’ll continue to “like” photos and write Editor’s Notes as we count down to our final day next Monday, August 3. Thank you again for diving in with me!

Ask a Question

Posted jul 17, 2015

Serendipity strikes again today. While I was taking the bus to work, NPR just happened to be broadcasting a story on D.C. public pools, and my ears perked up. My ride was transformed, and I was transported not just to work but also to my Your Shot assignment and to what I might convey to you today in my first update. The program, which I'd recommend, is called “D.C.'s Once Segregated Public Pools Are More Mixed, but for How Long?” It’s a historic take
on the city's pools. I was inspired yet again and reminded that I need to check out D.C.'s great public pool program.

But first and foremost, I want to thank you all for joining me on this assignment. I'm blown away by the engagement here and the number of submissions, as well as the ongoing dialogue. To clarify again, I am interested only in man-made pools. The final assignment will not include any images of natural bodies of water or anything not pool-related. Thanks to those of you who have helped to convey this message along the way.

So part of the challenge right now as I see it is this: Can you break out of the confines of my original inspiration for this story and see beyond the kids in the pool? What is your inspiration? What are the sights? The sounds? How does the space make you feel? How does it feel to be under the water, totally weightless and free? Where does your imagination take you as you move through the water, above and below. Are your fingers and toes water-wrinkled? How could you convey your feelings through photos? These questions are definitely more abstract. So pick one or ask your own. It's harder to do, for sure, but maybe give it a try.

For the next four days I’m going swimming, so I’ll catch up with you again next week.

In the meantime, keep posting!

Sherry L. Brukbacher

Sherry L. Brukbacher

National Geographic Photo Editor
Sherry L. Brukbacher has been working for National Geographic magazine’s photo department since 2008. For 5 years her focus was on feature stories, and Visions of Earth and Photo Journal. In 2013, she moved to NG's digital photo team where she photo edits daily News stories, galleries, features and the occasional Proof post, and engages with the Your Shot community.