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How We Play

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Published Sep 7, 2018 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 35 Contributors

    35 photos selected by

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Khmer children play ball under the rice field after harvesting. The children in this border area ...

    #water #vietnam #football #soccer #khmer #tayninh

    As I write this, I’m in the airport, on my way to a long weekend away from the oppressive heat of Washington, D.C. And I haven’t yet finalized my final story edit. I have a wide edit of 350 photos, edited down from more than 8,000, patiently waiting for me to continue making my selections.

    I knew this assignment might be a bit of a challenge for our community because it involved creativity, capturing action (in some cases) and interpreting what exactly “play” is together in one photograph. The discussion board was vibrant in workshopping what might make a suitable submission to this assignment, and I loved reading through the feedback exchanged between our community. My heart is always warmed when I see messages from folks saying that they picked up their camera with an intent to use this assignment as a catalyst to go outside of their comfort zone to photograph something new.

    Two little girl from district kurram in village Alizai which is located near the Durand Line bord...

    #children #culture #jump #sports #rope #village #playing #girls #tradition #how_we_play #tribalarea

    Editor's Note

    This moment is stunning, Irfan. The rich colors paired with your low perspective makes for an awesome view of these young ladies finding fun in something as easy as a rope. I love it!

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Monks taking time out to play volleyball in Key Monastery. While on my trip to kaza I got a ch...

    #india #people #himachal #travel #shadow #kaza #places #monks #spiti #natgeo #letsexplore #ngmhealth

    Editor's Note

    This is such a fun, educational moment for those of us who might have a narrow view of what monks... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The doll house I was making was still under construction, but apparently the residents were so de...

    #dollhouse

    This was such an intense moment, and the light was just perfect. The color banding due to the hig...

    #live #music #bass #rainbow #backlight #concert #solo #calexico

    A group of men deeply concentrating during a chess match at the Szechenyi Thermal Bath

    #pool #budapest #thinking #portrait #friends #sunshine #chess #bonding #thermal_bath

    Editor's Note

    I've never seen a more interesting game of chess...I love how these men playing are deep in focus while being surrounded by a pool full of people most likely talking and splashing. I love that you ... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    While this assignment progressed, I was consistently impressed with creative framing of familiar scenes and images that challenged the concept of what play really is. Is play tied to a structured game? Or is play simply whatever activities bring us joy? After this assignment, I’m leaning towards the latter. Play does not always connect to gameplay or sports, but rather a feeling that all humans can connect with. You can have the most expensive toy on Earth, a deck of cards, or simply your imagination and the satisfaction can be the same.

    I loved learning about different games that I wasn’t familiar with, thanks to our diverse community from around the world. I got to know more about the traditions our families pass down through gameplay, and I was reminded of games and activities that I’ve always personally loved. 

    Taken on La Spada di Damocles above the village of Colfosco in the Italian Dolomites. This is the...

    #winter #sports #extreme #dolomiti #dolomites #dolomiten #arrampicata #ice_climbing #colfosco

    Editor's Note

    This is just so awesome. I feel like I'm standing right there, wrapped up in my warm jacket, watc... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My daughter got wings over the holidays. She was having fun with her fairy costume and I added a ...

    #children #wings #childhood #imagination #lightpainting #led #pixiedust #everydayscience

    Gatka (Punjabi: ਗਤਕਾ gatkā) is a traditional South Asian form of combat-training, developed by Si...

    #games #sikhism #fair #training #performing #combat #fish_eye #religious_activity #gakta

    Frida Martinsson shredding fresh fallen snow in Åre, Jämtland, Sweden. Being out ski touring duri...

    #night #dark #winter #snow #skiing #powder

    Editor's Note

    I love how the light shines through the snowflakes and the skier's wake while they travel diagonally through your frame. I'll admit I've never been skiing but I can't imagine the thrill of doing it... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The baby Lemur-Cattas are playing together. They are 2-3 weeks old and explore the world. Not far...

    #monkey #lemur #baby #playing #tail #catch #catta #baby_animals #baby_monkey #lemur_catta #lemur_baby

    Editor's Note

    I love the whimsy of the baby lemur playing with the adult's tail! The innocence of animals is so special and it's a treat to see these creatures behaving so naturally. Great job on your compositio... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Aproximadamente unos 200 africanos se encontraban varados en la frontera sur con Panamá, Paso Can...

    #rain #people #dance #costarica #poverty #migrants #pasocanoas

    Editor's Note

    Jorge, me encanta este momento y la historia que estas diciendo con tu imagen. Me encanta como las piernas llenan la foto. Buen trabajo por darnos mas información en la descripción. También, lo sie... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Danger! Sharks in action!! Who would have thought??? ...photo from the BOYHOOD series. Summertime...

    #lakes #childhood #summertime #boyhood

    Editor's Note

    This moment is full of whimsy and humor, Agnieszka! I love the magic of the shark floating "in the sky" and the pure joy that encapsulates this young boy's joy. It makes me smile more and more as I... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The Rugbywomen is a documentary project realized in Sarcelles, a marginalized suburb in the north...

    #france #rugby #suburbs #gender #blackand_white #documentary_photography #therugbywomen

    Editor's Note

    Camilo, I love this series of strong women playing a rugged sport. I've never played myself, but had friends that played and I have the utmost respect for these athletes! I love that in this one fr... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Girl swinging at softball during practice. My timing was lucky and I was able to catch the softba...

    #softball #sports #kids #girls

    Editor's Note

    Rita...this timing is completely spot on and brings a huge smile to my face! I love the choice to put this image in black and white because it forces us to focus on the textures and moment even mor... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Underwater rugby is a tough and difficult sport I find facinating. I've bnever managed to reach h...

    #underwater #underwaterphoto #cmassports #akkaren

    Editor's Note

    Wow, I didn't even know this existed! I love the light and seeing the "action" of this sport, Rune. Great job anticipating an image that will teach us a little about the sport and including extra i... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The wall of a bubble is essentially a water sandwich--water trapped between two layers of soap mo...

    #childhood #bubbles #everydayscienceassignment

    Editor's Note

    This moment is so playful, I love the layers and colors of bubbles breaking up the frame! Kudos on an awesome caption that teaches us more about the process of making the bubbles come to life.

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    It is generally accepted that Solitaire (also known as Patience) is a game of German or Scandinav...

    #movement #games #cards #solitaire #how_we_play #my_best_photos_of_august_2018

    Editor's Note

    This is creativity at it's finest! You created a vibrant way to photograph a game that is usually quiet and played on one's own with an awesome narrative about how players focus on their game no ma... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Country carnival at sunset in the town where I grew up. Living in a very rural area with not much...

    #colorful #game #rural #carnival #colors #signs #games #country #fair

    Editor's Note

    I can smell the fried dough and hear my dads groans as I win another goldfish to bring home from my summers finding entertainment at the local fairs. I love how you toned this image to perfectly re... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    As we are walking to the civilization, leaving so many things behind and also some memories, chil...

    #floating #paper_boat

    Editor's Note

    This is absolutely gorgeous! The colors are rich and bright. Amazing job getting down low AND in the water. I love how you told more story in your caption, too. All around awesome, Anirban!

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Learning to fly is our favorite fun in the garden :-) My girls are calling "higher, higher, to he...

    #smile #sunset #play #fun #fly #summer #familytime #childhood_adventure

    Editor's Note

    I love this perspective, Julia. The late afternoon light is beautiful as it shines through the hammock and on the houses in the background. "Learning to fly" sounds like the perfect game to play to... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    I thing that every child loves painting, and painting outside, when no one is shouting "don't spi...

    #children #sisters #outdoor_activities #painting_outside

    Editor's Note

    Wow, Maga, I absolutely love this. The silhouettes, the shapes of hands, the texture of the plastic with paint and the pattern of the trees in the background all come together in one beautiful, cre... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Tweye and Maypim from the Maasai tribe are playing with their improvised dolls made from clay and...

    #africa #game #tanzania #tribe #maasai #indegenious #maasai_africa #liorsperandeo

    Editor's Note

    The light in this moment is soft and lets the rich colors shine against a darker background. I love that you got their names and told me about their improvised dolls in colors of the Maasai people.... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    We were Camping out at Riverside Park in Weyburn, Sk and this crazy storm passed thru and left th...

    #weather #landscapes #skies #mammatus #landofthelivingskies #svrwx #saskskies #southeastsask

    Editor's Note

    While this moment is packed with drama from the vivid colors of the sky, I love that this is a quiet portrait of a place where fun takes place, an interesting view of a setting that is usually ener... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Children playing Dixit. Their faces are a real gallery of emotions and different expressions :) ...

    #children #game #bw #games #childhood #documentary #doc #face_expression #board_game #doc_holiday

    Editor's Note

    I love getting lost in everyone's separate expressions around the table. Great job on this perspective too-- it feels like I'm sitting at the table waiting for my turn. I love the story you shared ... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    my daughter climbs up the tube slide at chick-fil-a, even though she knows the rule is "/up/ the ...

    #children #play #playground #childhood #slide #howweplay #howweplayassignment

    Editor's Note

    The use of light, the composition, and the silhouette all make this image for me! I remember my days of trying to climb up a slide, it felt like such an adventure and a test of skills. Love this mo... More

    Matt Adams
    Senior Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

    A scene from the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair

    #play #red #yellow #color #staircase #youth #spiral #childhood

    Editor's Note

    I instantly fell in love with the colorful tension in this frame. The perspective gives me a little sense of vertigo but the energy is impalpable. The timing is awesome as one child exits the frame... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    With my kids’ cousins visiting from abroad in the middle of a heatwave, we all took refuge in an ...

    #pool #play #hotel

    Editor's Note

    I simply adore the subtle, soft tones in this portrait. Great job keeping your frame clean without distractions on the edges. The pops of color are lovely spread throughout the frame. I love it!

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Player of the Kyiv-based wheelchair basketball team

    #people #sport #basketball #wheelchair #wheelchair_basketball #wheelchair_basketball_1 #sport_action

    Editor's Note

    The light is simply stunning on this frozen action, Oleksandr! The contrast between the light and the shadow of the surrounding part of the frame has so much drama-- fitting for an action image. Ni... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    The style of Indian wrestling, also know as Pehlwani and the person referred as Pehlwan. kushti,...

    #shadows #light #culture #travel #nikon #games #punjab #traditional #wrestling

    Editor's Note

    All around awesome moment, Manik! You have the frozen action, the expression, the layers of wrestlers and all at a low perspective that puts us practically eye-to-eye with our muddy characters. Tha... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    August 19, 2018. Fortnite. It's a video game that came out in 2017 and is on it's way to becomin...

    #play #game #rural #hunting #childhood #arkansas #videogame #ozarklife #fortnite

    Editor's Note

    Terra, I'm taking notes from you on how to use fluorescent overhead light because it is *not easy* to make hard light work, especially with color balance. I love the intensity of this young player'... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Argentina got the qualification to eighth. Messi advanced to the Albiceleste with a great goal to...

    #russia #argentina #faith #nationalgeographic #maradona #messi #sebastiangimenez #cupworld2018

    Editor's Note

    What a pure moment of celebration! The layers help tell us the story of the many people in this moment who were excited for their World Cup team. Awesome timing and anticipation!

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Night soccer game in Guatemala mountains

    #guatemala #night #urban #game #sport #soccer

    Editor's Note

    I really love having a different perspective of a soccer game in an urban setting. I love how the different color temperatures between the street and court create separate environments within the f... More

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    macau might be famous for what they called "entertainment" industry, where tourists from all over...

    #play #chess #macau #macao #chessplay

    Editor's Note

    Not only is the light and perspective lovely in this photograph, I love the undeniable sense of community gathered around this game! It's a testament to how games bring people together.

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Late evening fishing on a Finnish lake, around midsummer.

    #sunset #lake #fishing #summer #kids #finland #midsummer

    Editor's Note

    The tranquility in this moment is perfect! Your toning is spot on here so we can properly see the young fisherman and dog while they are slightly backlit. Well done!

    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    During times of division around the world, it was refreshing to remember that joy from games can bring us together.

    This story was a joy to curate and it turned out to be challenging to make final decisions. I made efforts to represent a variety of play around the world, as well as the creative perspective our community shares through photography.

    Hopefully, no matter where you are in the world, there is at least one photograph that reaches you in some way.

    Kristen McNicholas

    Associate Photo Editor, National Geographic Your Shot 

    About the Editor
    Kristen Mcnicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot
    Kristen interned at the White House Photo Office under the Obama Administration as well as Education Week. A proud RIT alumna, dessert enthusiast and Finger Lakes, NY native. She is happy and excited to be looking through your photos, providing feedback and supporting your photographic endeavors.

    Photographers Published In the Story