Who are the people helping us every day?

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By Whitney Johnson, Director of Visual and Immersive Experiences

"Thank you," I say more emphatically than usual to the shopkeeper behind the counter at the neighborhood corner store.

"Stay safe!" I add on my way out the door.

As countries remain under quarantine, essential workers continue to put their own lives at risk—from Brazil and Turkey to Italy and Spain. In Johannesburg, South Africa, photographer Miora Rajaonary spoke with security officer Mojaleda (above), who has difficulty getting to his job in a shopping mall six miles from his home. "It worries me to use public transportation at the moment," he says, a sentiment echoed by workers throughout much of the world these days.

Please take a moment to recognize and to support these workers, whose portraits are below.

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Today in a minute

Honoring the Class of 2020: They won’t walk across the stage at graduation. Or go to prom. So photographer Matt Mendelsohn decided to take portraits (from a safe distance, of course) of seniors from Arlington, Virginia for a moment they could hold onto in this odd time. “I’m just trying to give them a sense that ‘we’re not forgetting you,’” Matt told NBCWashington. The TV station urged parents to send in photographs of their seniors so that they could be recognized.

The new Big 5: In the old days, colonial game hunters had created a list of five toughest animals to kill. Now, a new organization pushing photography instead of slaughter says it’s time to reorient our notions of the Big 5—and perhaps highlight the struggles of these animals to survive. “The New Big 5 of wildlife photography will include animals from all over the world, so it could include polar bears, orangutans, tigers, grizzly bears, gorillas, lions, elephants, wolves or others." With the support of Jane Goodall and 100 of the world’s top photographers, it is asking everyone to vote. Cast your ballot for your favorite five animals..

Unusual tenderness and empathy: Those are the words other photographers used to describe Shahin Shahablou, who fled his native Iran after years as a political prisoner to flourish in London, portraying members of London’s LBGT community and taking on projects he wanted. Shahin died earlier this week of COVID-19, BuzzFeed reports.

Around, sort of: When globe-trotting photographer Pete Kiehart got the coronavirus, he wanted the love of his life around. Well, as around as Kasia Strek could be, without getting the virus. Katie and Pete, who has recovered, have chronicled their time “together,” including this haunting photograph of Katie, looking in.

Your Instagram of the day

Get better! In the early days of the pandemic in Italy, journalists Gabrielle Galimberti and Gea Scancarello worked together covering the story. They took precautions. Then Gea got a fever and a cough, and they decided to separate while she stayed at home to recover. “Yesterday,” wrote Gabrielle, “we saw each other like this, on her doorstep. I brought her groceries, and she showed me a thermometer with her temperature: 37.3° C (99.14° F). It’s hopefully nothing to worry about, but right now the precautions taken are never too many. Hold on Gea!” Two weeks later, Gea, who likely suffered through undiagnosed COVID-19, was on the road to recovery, Gabri told us.

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The big takeaway

Metropolis: What’s it like waiting out the pandemic in the biggest residential building in Latin America? João Pina has explored the gigantic glass-and-steel Copan building in São Paulo, Brazil. In one of the 1,160 apartments, Ilê Sartuzi has created a makeshift movie theater, one of many ways the 5,000 residents are coping. One day, Pina, maintaining strict distancing, visited resident Carine Wallauer, a director of photography. “She seemed relieved to have someone to speak to,” Pina said. “We sat on the floor—six feet apart—and talked for three hours."

Overheard at Nat Geo

Books of envy: We would know the best photo books, right? Our former photo director, Sarah Leen, has put together a compilation for those photo-minded travelers who find themselves stuck at home now. This image shows Milos Island in Greece on what’s know as the white rocks beach, from Massimo Vitali’s Entering a New World. We’ll have more images in Tuesday’s TRAVEL newsletter, but if you can’t wait, here are all of Sarah’s picks now.

Related: 31 ageless photos from our archives that take you back in time

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On Mondays, Debra Adams Simmons covers the latest in history. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up here to also get Victoria Jaggard on science, George Stone on travel, and Rachael Bale on animal and wildlife news.

The last glimpse

This photographer had an alias: This Mongolian princess was photographed in court dress by Juliet Bredon for Breton’s 1921 National Geographic magazine article “The People of the Wilderness.” Sara Manco, our senior photo archivist, says Bredon lived in China for most of her life as a niece and a wife of men in the foreign service. “She wrote several articles for National Geographic about Asia under the pen name “Adam Warwick,” even though she published books and articles for other publications under her own name,“ says Manco, who is puzzled why Bredon felt the need to use a pen name for National Geographic. There were other women writers in the fold in the early 1900s, including Eliza Scidmore and Harriet Chalmers Adams.

Subscriber exclusive: Eliza Scidmore, the woman who shaped National Geographic

This newsletter has been curated and edited by David Beard, and Jen Tse and Eslah Attar selected the photographs. Have an idea, a link, a good story amid this strange time? We’d love to hear from you at david.beard@natgeo.com . Thanks for reading!

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