I’ve found that the quietest people often have the best stories to tell, and January’s top photos are no different. While minimalistic at face value, they each have a single defining element that is powerful enough to carry the frame and narrative. Their simplicity allows your mind to let go of the present and to imagine the before and after of each moment.
We Have Liftoff
Along the Zambezi River in northern Namibia, a giant flock of southern carmine bee-eaters (Merops nubicoides) scatters into the air. According to Your Shot photographer Jason Boswell, these birds were taking off as a group of bird ringers attempted to ring a few hundred of them to gather more information on where they go when they leave these breeding grounds. Today is National Bird Day in the United States; the holiday coincides with the Christmas Bird Count, a citizen-led project to take stock of the health of the country’s birds.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JASON BOSWELL, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Photographer Mike Melnotte was out for a walk with his family near Fort Fisher in North Carolina. Near a grove of oak trees, he came across some friends relaxing and was struck by the way they sat in silence and simply watched the sunset.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE MELNOTTE, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
You Can Run
On the shore of Kurile Lake, a remnant of the volcano that was once active on this site in Kamchatka, Russia, competition for a meal can be fierce—and this brown bear isn’t letting his smaller rival get close to steal any salmon away. This photograph wasn’t easy to come across for Your Shot photographer Giuseppe D’amico—it required “stalking of the small beaches on the shores of the lake. This picture is the result of these ambushes and was taken in the early morning, from a distance of about 30 metres.” Despite the battle for a fish here, Kurile Lake is one of the world’s largest spawning sites for sockeye salmon.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GIUSEPPE D'AMICO, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
A riderless surfboard soars above a massive wave on Peahi, a surf break on Maui’s north shore. This image was captured during the Pe’ahi Challenge, a big-wave surfing event. Peahi, also known as Jaws, “is a spectacle in the truest sense of the word, with waves up to 80 [feet tall] (24 metres) on the biggest days,” photographer Lyle Krannichfeld says. “This particular frame stood out to me because of the splash of colour from the board and the questions it raises for the viewer.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY LYLE KRANNICHFELD, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
A crowd viewing Rembrandt’s famous “The Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild” painting at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum creates the illusion of art staring back at its audience. The museum focuses on Dutch art, featuring works dating from the Middle Ages onward. Your Shot photographer Julius Y. writes that “they are looking at each other between past and future.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY JULIUS Y., NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
I Was Here
A garter snake, also known as a garden snake, left an eerie, late-summer memento in Your Shot photographer Kathy F.’s northeastern Pennsylvania flower bed. “I was surprised to see how perfectly the skin had come off and [was] still in the shape of the snake,” she says. “[Garter snakes] are very common in the gardens and yards where I live. I placed it on a hosta leaf and took this macro shot to emphasise the details of the snake's skin.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY KATHY F., NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Rain At Last
A month-long stretch of no rain on Amantani Island in Lake Titikaka, Peru, ended one night with a spectacular storm. Photographer Filippo Taddei was upset he couldn't spend the evening outside, but he was relieved for nearby farmers.
PHOTOGRAPH BY FILIPPO TADDEI, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Carved In Stone
Glacial river water conjures an evanescent mist at the Norwegian rock formation known as Marmorslottet (the Marble Castle). Located in Mo i Rana, the Marble Castle is limestone that has been carved into sinuous-looking curves by the rushing river fed by the Svartisen glacier, Norway’s second largest.
PHOTOGRAPH BY THERESE JAEGTVIK, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT
Jeanne M. Modderman is the editor of Photo of the Day, a curated look at photography from National Geographic’s photo community, Your Shot. Liane DiStefano and Brett Weisband write the captions and titles. Submit your photos and you could be published in our magazines and online.