“What are you looking for in a photograph?” As an editor on Your Shot, I hear this question a lot. Students and professionals alike ask me what makes a great photograph or, when I’m selecting images for something like Photos of the Week, what catches my eye as I go through thousands of images. My responses before included the right moment, excellent composition, or beautiful light. My new answer is that I’m not looking for anything in particular; I’m waiting to feel something. I wish I could say that quote is mine, but it’s not. It’s from Susan Welchman, a former senior photo editor at National Geographic magazine. I heard this quote from Susan recently and it made me stop and pause for a moment. I’m a big fan of powerful quotes, whether it’s a great song lyric, a line from a film, or something a photo editor says on a podcast.
I love the idea of waiting to feel something from the images you are looking at. Yes, great composition and moments still go a long way, but nothing beats seeing an image that makes you just feel some sort of emotion. When curating the images in this gallery, the photo of a hermit crab with a soup can shell, documented by Shane Keena, made me think about the impact we as humans have on the Earth. I stared at that photo and felt a sense of loss for our planet. Then came the image made by Carole Mills Noronha. Who hasn’t felt discomfort at the dentist? And the image of a young bison snuggling against its mother, made by Tracy Kerestesh, evokes feelings of warmth and family.
Each image here had me feeling something upon my first viewing of it, and that’s how these photos made it into this edition of Photos of the Week. I’ll leave you with this: As you go out and capture new photographs, see if you find anything that makes you feel something. Instead of having an image in mind, go out and document a moment with your instincts. You may just create an image that makes someone else feel something too.