Photograph by Rebecca Hale
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Nana and the grandkids look on nervously as Pop's in the spotlight, preparing to boil a lobster.

Photograph by Rebecca Hale

Get Your Turkey and Your Camera Ready

While you're prepping for the biggest feast day on the American calendar, take our family photo challenge.

You’ve bought your turkey and you’ve mapped out the seating chart to separate the feuding cousins. You’ve outsourcing the stuffing and sweet potatoes, but you can’t bear to let anyone else but you make Mama Stamberg's famous cranberry relish. But before you collapse into your chair this Thanksgiving, remember why you’re bringing everyone together in the first place—it’s about family.

Nat Geo’s photo community Your Shot, along with The Plate, is launching a photo challenge called Tastes Like Home, featuring Pati Jinich of PBS' Pati’s Mexican Table and our Nat Geo editors. Plus, your kids can participate in their own photo challenge on My Shot, too. Show us through your photographs how you make your food taste like home.

“Few things are as transparent, meaningful and intimate as sharing family meal times,” says Jinich. “That tends to be when all comes together, and also when all unravels."

For example, the time when her son decided to dig into his birthday cake without blowing out the candles first:

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Juju had to taste his chocolate birthday cake before blowing out the candles.

Your photographs can be about any meal, but with the holidays approaching, it’s a good time to start capturing how your food gets to the table, and think about how you can visually convey what makes it unique and special to your family.

What are your family rituals around food? Maybe those images are of the finished product, but more likely, they are of the process.

For me, the moments of joy around food are simple. It’s when my kids stir their own macaroni and cheese or even just unload the dishwasher without being told. (That last example is pretty rare, but it’s wonderful when it happens.)

For National Geographic staff photographer Rebecca Hale, my partner in crime in this effort, it’s all about the process. “For me, images of my kids rolling out gingerbread cookie dough are more compelling than the beautiful cookie after it’s been baked.”

“I love to photograph the simple beauty of food as well as the things that bring us to the plate: culture, ritual, food and family,” she says.

So start think about how you can tell us your story through the lens of food, and don’t worry if it’s not perfect.

“Pick up your camera when it may be less than ideal,” she says, “like just this weekend when my five-year-old was covered in flour from ‘helping’ to make pizza dough. These are the images that I treasure and images that paint a more authentic picture of my life.”

Stay tuned for more info on the launch of our “Tastes Like Home” photo challenge and some expert photo tips. If you just can’t wait, see 5 Tips for Photographing Food on Your Phone.