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Rethinking Portraiture

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Published Sep 14, 2018 | View the Assignment | Features Photos From 32 Contributors

    32 photos selected by

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    On June 29th 2009, thirty-two people were killed and a further twenty-six were injured, due to th...

    #tattoo #body #streetphotography #viareggio

    A portrait might seem like simply a photograph of what a person looks like, but it is also an image that captures their energy, personality, surroundings, expression, and body language. In a single moment captured on film, the sensor of your pinkie-nail-sized phone camera, or anything in between, a portrait tells the essence of a character.

    I don’t love the term “subject” when talking about the people we photograph. They aren’t specimens we’re performing science experiments on—they’re human beings that are choosing to share some of their life with you. A portrait does not belong to a photographer; it belongs to the person, place, or thing in front of the camera.

    Market day in Urubamba. Beautiful, delicious, organic and oh so colorful. Always so much healthie...

    #peru #market #fruit #food #culture #colors #portrait #urubamba #southamerica

    Editor's Note

    This perspective is awesome! I love the frame filled to the brim with so many colorful fruits and textures, how they surround our character. Beautifully seen, Ryan!

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    People are fascinated with the unknown.There's no more sight of shore, only the sound of waves cr...

    #abstract #water #ship #sea #boat #nature #people #ocean #travel #portrait #places #landscapes #cruise

    Editor's Note

    I love the graphic nature and the unexpected perspective in this image. The deck looks tranquil, while the the ocean below churns. Eva, I want to know more about this situation and why it was an in... More

    Jenn Poggi
    Assistant Professor

    Tete Jesinta was raped four times between the ages of 4 and 20. Now, she is committed to using he...

    Editor's Note

    This portrait is elegant and timeless in nature but what builds more of this woman's story is in your caption. I learn her name, Tete Jesinta, the traumas she has lived through and her commitment t... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    And I’m not talking about copyright, here. I’m talking about the intimacy and trust that comes with portraiture when your character opens themselves up to a photographer. A photographer may own the copyright, but not the intimacy a person is sharing with them.

    While there are some traditional portraits in this story, I wanted to elevate portraits that make us rethink what a portrait can be, and that instill a little inspiration in us all. This final story is a celebration of our characters and their depictions, not just the photographers who saw the right moment, the right light, the right composition to help bring a portrait of their best friend, an animal, or a complete stranger to life. As photographers and photo editors, alike, we should always keep in mind the best interests of our characters as we tell their stories.

    Reflections of life. Adoption the struggle between Nurture and Nature. How do you cope with the f...

    #portrait #faces #stories #adoption #dailydozen #yourshotphotographer

    Editor's Note

    "Always in between two worlds." I love this sentence in your caption because I think you beautifully captured this sentiment in Maria's portrait. There is this realm of "belonging" that might be sy... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    A patient during chemotherapy...

    #people #portrait #cancer #yourshotadventure

    Editor's Note

    A beautiful and moving portrait of a patent undergoing chemotherapy. His mood which surely must be dark even in a battle to keep his face toward the light in hope is emphasized by the darkness of h... More

    Maggie Steber
    National Geographic Photographer

    The US Women’s foil fencing team recently made history becoming the first American foil team to w...

    #fencing #team_usa

    Editor's Note

    Incredible job making a portrait of a person that isn't about what they look like. I love the det... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Inspired after watching and reading "Katie's New Face" I have decided to upload this photo (and t...

    #face #mask #concept

    Taken at a heat of the Men's 110 Metres Hurdles, 2017 Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stad...

    #shadow #runners #athletics #muscles #2017_world_athletics_championship #ahmad_hazar

    Lynne Hempton calmly making the classic traverse on the 4th pitch of Via Myriam at Cinque Torri i...

    #female #climber #dolomiti #dolomites #dolomiten #rock_climbing #cinque_torri

    Editor's Note

    This is one intense portrait! I love Humberto's comment below, "The beautiful setting with the mountains and soft clouds in the background are in tension with the rough rock, the intense focus and ... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    It was a night trail and we came across to the waterbody where we seen this little tiny one was c...

    #macro #eye #croc #corcodile

    Editor's Note

    I love how you used negative space in this portrait of a crocodile to illustrate how sneaky these creatures are as they float through the water. Nicely done!

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    I saw this wall in Paris that had been plastered with numerous posters several of which created a...

    #paris #portrait #faces #posters #grafiiti

    Editor's Note

    I love this portrait because it makes me so uncomfortable. It creates an interesting commentary a... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    On our recent trip through the Spiti Valley in the Himalayas, we got the chance to spend the nigh...

    #india #mountains #people #travel #spiti #spiti_landscape

    Was waiting, waiting, waiting behind the bird for just a glimpse. After 20 minutes it slowly turn...

    #birds #owlet #wild_birds #spotted_owlet

    While entering a museumroom i saw this person standing in front of the very famous picture that w...

    #museum #streetphotography #museumphotography #rineke_dijkstra

    Editor's Note

    This timing and composition is simple and stunning, Michel. I love that you framed this older man in between two youthful men that appear to be looking at him. It creates an interesting tension bet... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    In Japan, there's no substitute for on-the-job training: old and young alike learn by doing. From...

    #train #japan #tokyo #learning #ojt

    Editor's Note

    I really love the story we're seeing in this portrait about mentorship, learning and career-work in Japan and moving forward in gender equality around the world. I would be wary of calling women ha... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My 20-year-old daughter admitted to me tonight that she struggles with body image. I died inside ...

    #reflection #balloon #daughter #bodyimage #yourverticalworld #notjustaface

    Editor's Note

    Elizabeth, thank you so much to you and your daughter for sharing this with us. It takes a huge a... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My partner is an Artistic Swimmer and is training for a big championship. I went along to a train...

    #abstract #water #pool #portrait #swimmer #black_and_white

    As I get older and the lines on my face become stronger and stronger, I am learning to love them....

    #selfportrait #blackwhite #lips #halfface

    While I was shooting a wedding ceremony I couldn’t help but wait for such a perfect moment where ...

    #colorful #church #prayer #symmetry

    Editor's Note

    I love that this isn't just a portrait of this man leading the prayer, but a portrait of an entire wedding ceremony being watched over by other portraits. I see a portrait of community, history and... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Lunch, 12pm. Rice, beans and beef made by mother, the best meal - not only the taste but also the...

    #meal #food #family #rice #brazil #kitchen #lunch #pan #beans #taste #stove #nostalgia #beef #homemade

    Editor's Note

    I love that while this photo is of your mother and her cooking, it is also a photo about the feeling that being home with her brings you. That is my favorite part about it-- all we see physically a... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    from ustaged photography. Yumeji, Zushi Beach, Shinjuku, Zushi, Feb 2015 夢路 逗子海岸 逗子 新宿 2015/2

    #street #streetphotography #unposed #unstaged

    Editor's Note

    This photo cracks me up! I laugh every time I see her expression running out of the frame towards us. I love her high energy compared to the relaxed and napping folks behind her. Awesome!

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    Suzanne is a 68-year-old british lady, who spent most of her life living in Portland, Oregon. Wit...

    #sunset #canon #travel #oregon #faces #medieval #portraits #portland #nationalgeogaphic

    Editor's Note

    This portrait is classically elegant. I love our character, Suzanne, set against a background as beautiful as she is. Wonderful job capturing her resilience and strength while the wind sweeps her h... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    This image is from a larger documentary series on a local drag queen group. As kids we dress up a...

    Editor's Note

    Pippa, you perfectly caught this moment. I love the layers and framing between hair and reflections in the mirror. It gives us an opportunity to see so many bits of this person in one frame. What... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My father giving drops to my mothers eye after she had an eye operation. She needed drops every 3...

    #drops #eye #portrait #hands #scary

    Editor's Note

    Dejan, this is a lovely portrait of your parent's love. Yes, it's a portrait of your mother receiving eye drops from your father but this level of dedication and devotion transcends what a simple p... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    A different look of an athletic male as he was submerged for a quick rinse in the pool after a sw...

    #water #man #underwater #portrait #blackandwhite #person #submerged #athletic

    Editor's Note

    I appreciate seeing vulnerability from someone who society usually expects to be "strong" and "tough". Thank you for sharing this image and furthering the conversation and breaking down harmful gen... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My 66 year old husband wears his blue jeans young. Ripped like only a body could, these jeans are...

    #portrait #clothing #window_light #blue_jeans #authentic_rips #vintage_jeans #not_just_a_face

    Editor's Note

    This portrait is incredibly clever, Patti. I loved reading the comments below that praised this portrait of your husband as creative and imaginative because I couldn't have said it better myself. I... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    When ISIS swept across Iraq in August 2014 on a mission of systematic annihilation against Christ...

    #war #home #iraq #memories #fleeing #leftbehind #closet #left_behind #keepsakes #telskuf #batnaya

    Editor's Note

    This portrait of a space left behind by people who had no choice but to flee their home is heartbreaking. I love how you framed the empty closet next to the framed photograph that had to be left be... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    I have never really known much about my mother's side and have always imagined what my grandmothe...

    #art #motherhood #selfportraiture #dressproject #emotionalstorytelling

    Editor's Note

    I agree with Vanessa Hirsch's comment, "Beautiful color tones and lighting! It has a vintage feeling." This portrait feels timeless and a lovely modern homage to your own grandmother.

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    There are moments and places where you can see the world woven from our dreams. A world so extra...

    #abstract #reflection #light #color #shadow #neverwhere #life_style

    Editor's Note

    I agree with so many of the comments below-- this photo has it all! Mystery, awesome layers and exposure and a little hint of a hero in us all. I can't stop swooning over the reflection and shadow ... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    My mother hates when somebody takes pictures of her, always covering herself or turning away. Lat...

    #abstract #mother #portrait #family #different_angle

    Editor's Note

    Bravo on showing me a portrait of someone without showing me the person. This is a lovely still life that sums up a woman who you care so deeply about you wouldn't want to upset her by taking her p... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    A couple kisses on the patio on a hot summer night.

    Editor's Note

    I love the cool and warm tones playing off of each other in this portrait of this couple's relationship. There is a sense of anticipation in the space between their shadows surrounded by the yellow... More

    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot

    About the Editor
    Kristen McNicholas
    Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot
    Kristen is an Associate Photo Editor with the Your Shot team. She 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, Kristen is excited to guide your photographic journey!

    Photographers Published In the Story