When people ask me what makes a Photo of the Day—a curated look at photography around National Geographic—my answer is simple: I have to want to spend time with the picture, and whether full of complex detail or exquisitely simple, it has to stand on its own. The photos I choose are meant to be a glimpse of our world in a moment in time, some captured as a result of meticulous planning and research on assignment for National Geographic magazine, others happy finds from keen eyes tuned to daily life and travels from our Your Shot community. The photographers behind the lens represent a wide range of skill levels, from professional to aspirational, but each has a visual story to tell. Below are a selection of reader favorites from the month of February.
In the above Photo of the Day by Your Shot contributor Quang Tran, women sew fishing nets in a Vietnamese village. The billows of the bottle-green nets, echoing the ocean waves, the calm focus of the women at work, and the detail of the old-fashioned sewing machine all work together to make a harmonious scene—and one that I imagine is not as tranquil as it looks.
There is magic in these fairy tale woods of Spain’s Manchuela in Castile-La Mancha region—and magic in coming across unexpected moments. I like how we see the horse through a veil of wispy tree branches. He is right over there but just beyond reach.
So many of Orsolya Haarberg’s photographs of the coast of Norway were perfect for Photo of the Day, it was hard to choose. What I love about this frame is the feeling of being perched right among the ring of jagged peaks of Lofoten Islands, watching the warm light hitting different points in the distance across the waters of Kirkefjorden.
Your Shot contributor Alexander Stepanenko got this photograph while riding on the back of a sled in a Russian village near Murmansk, giving the viewer the feeling of being in the middle of the moment. I love the composition of the lead reindeer coming out of the frame, with the rest of the herd following behind.
David Doubilet’s story on the underwater paradise of Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea featured many gorgeous images but this one is my personal favorite. The lush, velvety texture of the anemone and the electric green of its tentacles are a feast for the eyes. And I love the anemonefish peeking out from his luxury dwelling.
I have seen many photographs which play off of the scale and vast, luminous emptiness of the salt desert of the Bolivian Altiplano. What I like about this frame is getting a sense of what it actually is like to be in that climate. The workers, here to extract salt, lithium, and borax, are covered from head to toe, almost giving the impression of astronauts at work on the surface of an alien planet.
There is a cinematic quality to this scene, as if we are dropping in on an adventure film. The cavers in the yellow tents huddled between the darkness and the light streaming in seem poised on the brink of a new discovery as they continue their trek through Hang Son Doong in Vietnam, the largest cave in the world.
I love how at first you see the collective, defined by the geometric patterns of the stacks and the desks of China’s National Library, and then you get to spend time studying the individuals in various states of attentiveness—all in sharp detail.
I love how these wolves at Indiana’s Wolf Park are coming into the frame mid-howl, each at a slightly different point. I feel as though I am about to watch a procession with this trio at the lead, announcing what is to come. This is a great example of being ready to click the shutter at just the right moment.
Starry skies illuminated by the otherworldly colors of the northern lights are an immediate eye-catcher. What makes this photograph from Paul Nicklen’s recent story about the Canadian Yukon special is what’s on the ground—the smokehouse, topped with the elk horns and illuminated from within— giving a sense of the people who live in these beautiful and remote places.
Alexa Keefe is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from around National Geographic. The full archive is accessible here.