I have a confession: I’m neither a photographer nor a photo editor. (For proof, check the @susanbgoldberg Instagram account.) In my five-and-a-half years as editor of National Geographic, I’ve looked at amazing photography every day. But I came up the “word side” of journalism as a reporter and editor, and I never quite forget that I’m a bit of an interloper in the purely visual storytelling world.
Given that checkered history, I’m delighted to serve as the first guest editor of the Photos of the Week, in honor of significant milestone for the Your Shot community: You’ve now submitted 10 million photos! That’s a tremendous contribution to our National Geographic storytelling across platforms.
Looking through photo submissions, I quickly got stuck. There was one great picture after another; how could I possibly decide which to select for this roundup? Sarah Leen, our director of photography, kept her advice simple: “Pick the photos that move you, that make you feel.”
A photograph of a solitary figure ascending the stairs of Hong Kong building made me stop. It’s a man, or a boy, caught mid-journey in a stairwell’s light. Has he many more flights to go? Is he as alone as he appears, in one the world’s most bustling cities? I wanted to know more, and decided this qualified as a photo that moved me.
So did the photograph of Leida and Laelle, twins from Haiti who now live in the United States. I was caught by their direct gaze, colorful clothes, and obvious sisterly bond. “They support each other on their dreams,” photographer Tati Itat wrote in the caption. I felt that, as I savored the sheer beauty of the girls and the image.
Many photos we see at National Geographic are not so beautiful, but capture a moment in a unique way. I saw that in the photo of a political demonstration in La Paz, Bolivia. After decades covering the news, I thought I had seen pictures of every kind of unrest, often from the vantage point of the protesters. This photo centered on the hand of the police officer, outstretched behind his egg- and paint-splattered shield; we’re reminded of his humanity, though we cannot see his face. I don’t think I’ve seen a photograph like this before.
With great difficulty, I winnowed the stack of photos to the 15 in this gallery. Congratulations to these photographers! (I had no photographer information during the selection process, but I’m personally delighted that eight of these 15 are women. Growing the diversity of our photographers is a priority at National Geographic.)
I thank the Your Shot editors for allowing me to guest edit—but more, I send thanks to all of you in the Your Shot community. Your work epitomizes how a good photo can move people. Every week, your contributions help National Geographic show people the world. For that, we’re deeply grateful.