Courtesy of National Geographic.com | Editors Lynn Johnson and Elizabeth Krist | Originally Published 04.21.2018 | Posted 03.25.2018
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Nastasia Peteuil

United States of America

Pieces of lives in my archives. I met Marjorie during the summer of 2013 for an article about hospital at home. She was 33 and only several months to live.

Enlightenment for a wave is the moment the wave realizes that it is water. At that moment, all fear of death disappears. —Thich Nhat HanhWe offered you the challenge of translating one of our deepest human fears into a meaningful image to share with the Your Shot community. For many of you, going beyond the familiar clichés meant conquering a visceral dread, to try to understand what death truly means to you, before you could even begin photographing.

At the start of the assignment, we saw a huge number of literal, predictable visuals, but as many of you began digging deeper, we encountered more thoughtful, experimental approaches and more adventurous results. With time we were also seeing a higher proportion of technically refined images, which by displaying more attention to composition and light, attained a certain elegance of the frame.

We admired those of you who returned to situations to rework them, trying out different techniques. A determination to investigate more honestly separated serious photographers from those who seemed content to stay on the surface. We also realized that people were going back into their existing work, using this assignment as a catalyst to re-edit. While that can be valuable, this kind of recycling doesn’t allow for growth in your shooting.

Editor’s Note

An elegant image of crossing from life to a place for the dead. Everything works well—atmosphere, light, design, simplicity and the delicate message of names on the column.

Lynn Johnson
National Geographic Photographer

 

Ella Wańczyk

Finland

When i am thinking about death, no matter when and way it is coming, I believe it’s not the end of us. Our soul is created by these vibrating lights and when it’s time we are taken far up above the sky. I believe our loved once can always see us and they can be with us, in our good and bad moments.

Editor’s Note

This photographer used imagination and deeply personal belief to create this image. That is it’s power, combined with a unifying warm tone that allows us to drift off into the night as well.

Lynn Johnson
National Geographic Photographer

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Kathryn E

United States of America

The man who lives here had lost his wife some time ago. With his little bit of English and my (very) little bit of Spanish, he was able to share his still fresh feelings of love and grief for his wife. He showed me her ashes. We hugged– it was easier than conversation. His whole home looked like the pause button had been hit at the moment of her passing. You could feel the absence of her there.

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Editor’s Note

The reflected chair speaks of a long-mourned wife in this Cuban home. The atmospheric light adds to the haunted feel.

Elizabeth Krist
Photo Editor

Veronika K Ko

United States of America

Innocent child dreaming.People believe that our souls go somewhere, while sleeping, and return after waking up.They have a journey, beyond, among our memories, desires or dreams, where the unpossible happens-we could meet and hug our beloved ones, we lost.A mystery that will never be revealed!This shot of my niece behind the dead fan coral (we found on the beach), taken a few years ago, when she was a very little girl, is a symbol: behind the Death-is a new Beginning,here or beyond,but..Beginning!

It is very difficult to put realities together without losing the power and purity of both layers. This photographer succeeded. The delicate nature of the coral and child’s expression were key.

Lynn Johnson
National Geographic Photographer

neil robert jones friestad

Norway Regeneration   

This was my first attempt at a double exposer shot, these 2 pictures hanging in our house.The fist is a picture of our daughter in a sullen mood, with strong shadow from the sunlight coming in through the window of our living room where it was taken.Combined (in camera) with the picture of her great grandmother, that hangs in her grandmothers Living room, just down the hall. Though they never met, her great grandmother died after a stroke. They look hauntingly similar together in this shot.

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Diana Valence

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

'Maybe there is a creator that mends together our mechanical features,and then there is a… more…

Editor’s Note

This image is pure emotion. We can feel her sadness. Even the out of focus quality and deep shadows add to the sentiment.

Lynn Johnson
National Geographic Photographer

Juan Osorio

United States of America

In New York City, perseverance, tenacity and determination prevail. Human spirit always overcomes… more…

Editor’s Note

While the luminescent high walls draw us forward, following the silhouetted visitors toward the city ahead, the arc of reflected light acts as an upward arrow creating its own sense of urgency and …More

Elizabeth Krist
Photo Editor

Kathleen Croft

United States of America

This image was captured during the full moon in Tiniteqilaag, Greenland. The cemetery is very old… more…

Editor’s Note

Light, light, light—that is the language of photography. Many people photographed cemeteries for this assignment but the light set this one apart.

Lynn Johnson
National Geographic Photographer

Arnaldo Gonzalez

Costa Rica

daughter hugging her father while visiting the grave of his mother in her day more…

Editor’s Note

This photographer did a beautiful job of transmitting a real and emotional moment without allowing ego, lens choice or other distractions to get in the way. Beautiful.

Lynn Johnson
National Geographic Photographer

Gregor Pirih

Slovenia

surrounded by people I love. And I am glad for every minute I spend with my family. No matter wha… more…

Editor’s Note

The mystery of death is difficult to communicate but this alludes to that in the way it was framed with bits and pieces of reality and emotion layered together.

Lynn Johnson
National Geographic Photographer

Karine BIZ

France

With our hunter cat we have no mouse in the house. But when my daughter discovered the last offer… more…

Editor’s Note

The loving attention to the humblest of creatures is emphasized by the selective focus that steers our attention to the mouse and the offerings in the coffin, by the angle that hides the girl’s fac… More

Elizabeth Krist
Photo Editor

last story swim of my dead goldfish in my hand ………. No one wants to die. Even people who w… more…

Editor’s Note

A witty yet touching way of coping with the death of a pet. In its way, as imaginative and comforting as a children’s fable.

Elizabeth Krist
Photo Editor