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Sacred Landscapes

This assignment ran from Oct 13 to Nov 1, 2015.

The idea of sacred landscapes came to me when I first visited the Maya site of Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico, in the 1990s, and then Copan, Honduras. As my interest in ancient cities grew, I began to travel to many such sites around the world. This was truly an exciting time as a young archaeologist. Looking back, however, I realize that today’s cultural centers are the modern expressions of their ancient counterparts and so are a progression in our very complex worldview.

One thing for sure is that we are all bound by history to ancient peoples, who often leave behind remnants of the world. Structures, buildings, art, fountains, temples, villages, caves, roads—all these are physical manifestations that link the future, the present, and the past.

Just as these structures lay dormant underneath our modern landscapes, I wondered if it was possible to capture images that could take us to another era, a time when the world first became modified by the belief that the Earth’s surface was indeed a physical representation of our myths and heavenly bodies, a map of the universe.

As an archaeologist, I am drawn to ancient societies and how different people in different regions have expressed their beliefs in countless ways. As a visual explorer, I’ve become fascinated with the idea of capturing images that reflect the notion of timelessness. I have found that the junction between the accidental geography and society are uniquely expressed in countless and significant ways. I see these sacred landscapes as brilliant combinations of natural elements and human vision and action, proportion, color, depth, and light, a continuum.

This assignment calls for images that capture the intersection between landscapes, structures, art, buildings, mountains, rivers and oceans, the ancient and the modern. Is it possible to capture timelessness?

This assignment will close at 5pm EST on November 1st.

Curated by:

fabio esteban amador
National Geographic Explorer
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Closed

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  • Published

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Published Nov 18, 2015.
Thank you for your contributions!

Last Days

Posted oct 29, 2015

Dear Your Shot community,

The Sacred Landscapes assignment is about to close and we urge you to submit your final entries by November 1.

This is my first time as editor and I have to admit it is extremely difficult to select photos because I find beauty in all of them. I’m humbled by your images, your ideas, and your thoughts of what the meaning of "sacred" is, and the landscapes you have submitted are inspiring.

Furthermore, and most important, what I have enjoyed most is the passion that comes through in your comments. The interaction and the support you have given each other is overwhelming, and I couldn’t have asked for more than this. I truly appreciate each and every one of your entries and comments as you all have made this experience truly magical. I tip my hat to all of you, visual explorers for sure!

Taking a Walk

Posted oct 26, 2015

You can't imagine the pleasure I feel every time I open up Your Shot and check out the new entries in our assignment Sacred Landscapes. I also wanted to apologize for not being able to see the newly submitted images in the past few days. I've been searching for that very shot myself on the northern desert coast of Peru at a site called Las Aldas. It is a five thousand year old archaeological site right up against the ocean and perhaps one of the earliest cities in the Americas. This coast is beautiful, strong, plentiful and cold. The search for that image we have all been searching for becomes more than an image or a moment, for me it is a life long search for meaning and purpose and of course, a quest to capture that juncture between nature and mankind.

I want to propose something to all who have submitted, why not take a walk this weekend, early morning or late afternoon to capture that magical light and no need to go to far from home or where ever you maybe. Just consider capturing that moment, your timeless moment, in a familiar place were you become the visual explorer and discover.

Don't forget that images are visual narratives, they tell us stories, so make yours a compelling one. Thanks again for all your submissions. I hope to share my moment with you in the future. Fe

Keep it Up!

Posted oct 19, 2015

Dear Your Shot community,

I have been incredibly amazed by the fantastic response we have had for the Sacred Landscapes assignment. I am truly impressed by the quality of images submitted and most important, the visual narratives they convey. I want to thank all of you for making such an important contribution.

There have been a few questions and comments about the meaning of the assignment and if it is a religious assignment. The answer is no. My intention was not to focus on any faith in particular but rather on the intersection of human and nature and the many ways in which each one of us is able to capture a moment and a particular setting that we value as timeless. Therefore, if a symbol, artifact, or structure associated with a faith is included in your image, that's OK, but that shouldn't be a guiding principle, just an example.

Thanks again for your images, and keep sharing.

fabio esteban amador

fabio esteban amador

National Geographic Explorer
Fabio Esteban Amador is a visual explorer using multiple imaging technologies to capture the human and natural landscapes. He is a senior program officer for the National Geographic Society / Waitt Grants Program, promoting and coordinating scientific and exploratory research around the world. He is also an associate research professor at George Washington University and Executive Director and President of Fundacion OLAS, an organization devoted to capacity building for Latin American scholars dedicated to the study and preservation of the submerged cultural heritage.