The Best Photos From December

Every day, we feature an image chosen from thousands submitted to our photo community, Your Shot. Here are some of the month's highlights.

When curating Photo of the Day, the quality of the image description submitted to Your Shot plays a big role in deciding what pictures are strongest. Melody Rowell is a writer and former National Geographic photo editor who edits the captions for Photo of the Day. This month, she explains how to write a strong photo caption:

Sorry to break it to you, but pictures aren't always worth a thousand words. Photography is an intensely personal activity. Only you can know why you chose to press the shutter at the exact moment you did, what story existed in front of you at that moment, and where that story was occurring. For those of us looking at your pictures later, you have to clue us in!”

When I write captions for the Photo of the Day, there are many times I'm stymied because a photographer didn't include any information in the caption. I don't know what's happening or where, much less why I should care!

To write a good caption, answer these three questions:

  1. What's happening?
  2. Where is it happening?
  3. What does it mean?

Those three answers will capture your viewers' attention and imagination, and keep them thinking about the photo long after they've stopped looking at it. —Melody Rowell

Francis Rivera produces Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from National Geographic’s photo community, Your Shot . Melody Rowell writes and researches the captions. Submit your photos and you could be published online or in our magazines. See the highlights from previous months here.