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Why We Love Pets

This assignment ran from Apr 5 to Apr 25, 2017.

With this assignment, Your Shot invites you to share with us why we love pets.

This sounds like an easy assignment, but remember, every pet owner has a special/favorite photo of their pet that they believe is awesome. So my advice is to make me feel something — both visually AND in your caption — about pets, and why people love them.

Make me care about pets with the light, composition, and moment in your photo. Tell me a story. Maybe your pet has accompanied you on some epic adventures, or has been part of your family for as long as you can remember. Maybe your pet comforted you through some difficult times in your life. Help me understand why people love their pets so much. Make me wish I had a pet.

I agree with photographer Robin Schwartz (who curated the Your Shot assignment, “The Animals We Love”) when she reminded you that “captions can provide the intent and tell your story. Your caption should absolutely connect to your image, extend your vision, and provide [us] with more insight into your personal individual image.”

This is your chance to be published on the Your Shot page in National Geographic magazine; you will only have three submissions, so make them count.

I look forward to you revealing why we love pets.

SUBMISSION Deadline is April 25, 2017 at 12PM EST.

David Y. Lee
National Geographic Your Shot Associate Photo Editor

Curated by:

David Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot
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 May 2, 2017.
Thank you for your contributions!

Editor's Update 04

Posted may 1, 2017

If you submitted your photos without reading the introduction to the assignment, you may have missed a crucial and exciting detail—this assignment provides a chance to be published on the Your Shot page in National Geographic magazine. That’s why I invited Jessie Wender, a senior photo editor for the magazine, to select some of her favorite submissions as we go along. Jessie will then share her edit with the other magazine editors as they plan out the issue.

Yes, Your Shot is a wonderful photo community for having fun with photography, but it is also your opportunity to be seen and published. It truly is "your shot." That is why I love my job—while Your Shot encourages you to be better photographers and more thoughtful storytellers, we also help someone realize their dream. And that someone might be you.

Editor's Update 03

Posted apr 21, 2017

This week I invited National Geographic magazine senior photo editor Jessie Wender to look at submissions from the assignment. Here are some of her favorites:

The Golden Eagle | Photograph by Alessandra Meniconzi
Portrait of a dog (Karma) | Photograph by M. Zilic
Cat Grab the Cloud | Photograph by Takako Sasaki

I also want to share something fun that was presented at our weekly photography department meeting here at National Geographic. Check out this series called "The Life Cycle of a Dog Toy" by photographer Hannele Lahti. Such a simple and fun idea, but when executed with purpose, it becomes awesome.

Thank you for sharing your photos about why we love pets. There have been some really powerful stories. I hope you're enjoying this assignment as much as I am.

David Y. Lee
National Geographic Your Shot associate photo editor

Editor's Update 02

Posted apr 14, 2017

This past week I invited National Geographic magazine senior photo editor Jessie Wender to look at submissions from the assignment. Here are some of her favorites:

Love | Photograph by Dina Alfasi
The Eagle | Photograph by Audrey Jeane Edler
Horse | Photograph by F. Santos
The Light of Life | Photograph by Mayukh Mitra

Because Your Shot is a global community, representing 195 countries, I recognize that English is not everyone’s primary language. I am not expecting perfection in your caption, I want to see effort. I want to see that you are trying. Take advantage of Google Translate if you need help. Practice makes perfect; this is the only way to get better. And because we are Your Shot, I encourage you to be better. Here are some more fantastic examples of how the captions share a story and provide us — the Your Shot community — details and information that make us care about the photo being shared, and make the image even better beyond the visual elements of light, composition, and moment. I hope these submissions inspire you.

Love Will See You Through | Photograph by Beamie Young
You Can Do It! | Photograph by Juan Osorio
Chicken Speak | Photograph by Terra Fondriest
Beach Dog | Photograph by Andreina Gonzalez
There is No Stronger Bond | Photograph by Kevin Taylor
The Ageless Pet | Photograph by Jennifer F.
My First Pet | Photograph by Martine Lanchec-Girard
Contentment | Photograph by Nathan Kelm
Bird Watching | Photograph by Liz Behm
Canine Love | Photograph by Elizabeth Paoletti
My Beloved Dog Ferdo Died | Photograph by Bart Veltkamp

I look forward to seeing more submissions of why you/we love pets.

David Y. Lee
National Geographic Your Shot associate photo editor

Editor's Update 01

Posted apr 12, 2017

Thank you for sharing your stories about why you/we love pets — I won’t lie, submissions like “Exploring With Bear” from Your Shot photographer Bret Osswald make me wish I had a dog to take camping and hiking with me.

I want you to notice that a lot of these photos are really similar. So as you scroll through the submissions to this assignment, really think about why you stopped and liked a photo.

And then think about what distinguishes your photo from the other submissions. I don’t mean just visually in the composition, light, or moment — I also mean what you are sharing in your caption. For this assignment, the captions are important to me. What is the visual and written story you are sharing with the Your Shot community and me? In my final story edit, if there are two photos I’m choosing between, I will select the photo with the better caption.

Think about it this way: I have never met you or your pet. I want to understand why you/we love pets, why pets are special in our lives. You have a chance to take advantage of the written word to explain, describe, and share—and ultimately make me care.

Here is a great example: “The Cedar Grove” by Your Shot photographer Angee Manns. Not only is the light beautiful, not only is it a sweet moment between son and dog, but the caption is poignant. Angee shares that this is her son, she details the name of the pet, and then she reveals how she feels, which helps me connect further with her photo. Now, I’m feeling something, too.

I know writing captions takes a little extra effort, but practice makes perfect. So keep practicing, and the work will help you become not only better photographers, but also more thoughtful storytellers.

David Y. Lee
National Geographic Your Shot associate photo editor

David Lee

David Lee

Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot
Before joining the Your Shot team, David covered the White House for Time and Newsweek, and served as an official photographer for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He also started The Waiting List, a non-profit storytelling project humanizing the statistics of organ donation.