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World Without Energy

This assignment ran from Jul 27 to Aug 17, 2015.

For most people, “energy” means having the ability to flip a switch to turn on overhead lights or adjust a knob on the stove for morning tea—we often take for granted our access to energy that powers our lives. We'd like to challenge you to think about what the world would look like without any connection to energy—to envision how it would affect your life and impact everything you see, touch and do each day of the year.

Here's the thing: energy is nearly as important as the air we breathe and the water we drink, yet not everyone has ready, reliable access to energy.

This special Your Shot assignment asks that you show what a world without energy might look like. As you look to compose striking images for this assignment, consider the themes of energy access, energy innovation and ideas, and how having no access to power can—and in some parts of the world, does—affect people in their day-to-day lives.

This assignment is the first of three assignments launched in conjunction with The Great Energy Challenge, a National Geographic initiative in partnership with Shell. The assignments and partnership as a whole are designed to make us stop and think about the role of energy in our lives. As you are taking your pictures, be sure to visit for inspiration and more information.

In return for the Sponsor's support of this Assignment, National Geographic may provide images from the Assignment to the Sponsor for its use on its website, social media platforms, and other outlets to promote and publicize the Assignment.

Curated by:

Monica C. Corcoran
Former Director, Your Shot
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 24, 2015.
Thank you for your contributions!

Why We Need Sponsors

Posted aug 14, 2015

Hello, Your Shot! There’s been a lot of discussion about sponsorships recently, so I thought I would provide some insight into why we have sponsored assignments.

Have you ever noticed that there are no ads anywhere within the Your Shot community? NONE. This is unheard of for a website because that’s how sites make money and can continue to operate. It’s something that we fought strongly for before we relaunched the community in May 2013 and that we continue to fight for to this day. When people are looking at photos on a web page, they typically pay no attention to the ads on that same page. In our opinion, this was wasted space that we could fill with beautiful photography taken by our members. We made the pitch that we should instead allow groups to sponsor assignments, and that in return for their sponsorship, we’d run their advertisements within the assignment—only within the assignment, nowhere else within the Your Shot community. We wouldn’t give out any information about our members and the sponsors could only use photos from the assignment in direct promotion of the assignment and the community, for a limited time.

So where does the sponsorship money go? It allows us to pay the bills and keep the lights on, so to speak. It allows us to add new functionality and features (albeit not as quickly as we’d like!). It allows us to fund special projects like a two-day photo workshop for underserved youth in New Orleans and photo walks for members all over the world. In other words, the sponsorships allow us to leave our desks in Washington, D.C., and meet our community face-to-face. The meetups provide invaluable feedback and help guide us as we continue to grow the community. We hear directly from you about what’s working and what’s not. But even more importantly, we make the community real for its members. Real connections. Real people. Real stories.

Thanks for your support and understanding. And keep shooting because that’s why we are here. We want to see your communities through your eyes. Photography can change the world. Maybe this assignment can help shape the conversation …

Add Drama

Posted aug 5, 2015

How do you show without? How do you take a picture of something that is not there? Here are a few ideas. Create a mood by playing with light and dark—use dramatic shadows to imbue a feeling or an emotion. Try intentionally composing a shot with a person or object leaving or entering the frame. How you compose the photo has a direct impact on what the viewer feels.

Looking at the submissions has made me yearn for a simpler life style… maybe a world without energy wouldn’t be so bad? And then I remember that I’m sitting in a cool space while outside, the world is sweltering in the August heat. I’m also working remotely on my laptop—able to stay connected at all times. Maybe I just need a better balance between the two worlds. Maybe I can start by decreasing my own use of energy. Starting now.

Monica C. Corcoran

Monica C. Corcoran

Former Director, Your Shot
Monica C. Corcoran is an award-winning photography producer with 20 years experience in visual storytelling. She is a former director at National Geographic for the Your Shot photo community.