• January 1, 2014

Pictures We Love: Signals and Remnants

Alexa Keefe

National Geographic’s Proof blog invited the photography and design teams of National Geographic magazine to look back through the hundreds of photographs from the over 75 stories published in 2013 and select one photo that spoke to their heart, intrigued them, inspired awe, made them smile—in short, to choose their favorite photo from this past year. Over the next several days we’ll bring you a round-up of the breathtaking, the touching, the extraordinary, the imperfect, and the beautiful.

An acacia rustles with plastic trash dropped by travelers. Afar nomads use the term Hahai, or People of the Wind, to describe the refugees, deserters, migrant workers, and others who blow through the desert.
To Walk the World, December 2013
Kate LaRue, Senior Designer, Digital

This looks like the set of an M.I.A. video. Beautiful. Yet it has a simple significance: the captured bags are evidence of the many travelers who have passed through the desert. The people didn’t stay, but Stanmeyer’s photo proves they were there.

Impoverished African migrants crowd the night shore of Djibouti city, trying to capture inexpensive cell signals from neighboring Somalia—a tenuous link to relatives abroad. For more than 60,000 years our species has been relying on such intimate social connections to spread across the Earth
To Walk the World, December 2013
Dennis Dimick, Executive Editor, Environment

Standing as if waiting for signals from another world, these men on the Djibouti shores hope for a faint cellphone signal from neighboring Somalia. The power of this picture speaks to our enduring quest to explore—to connect with each other wherever we go—despite facing often daunting obstacles as we roam across the Earth. We are not alone. We are all connected, or try to be.

Elena Sheveiko, Photo Coordinator

As it happens, I’ve worked with John Stanmeyer since his first ever story in National Geographic. And each story had an image that touched a hidden string in my soul. Years later, I still hear the sound. This picture from “To Walk the World” is one of them. It makes me want so much for everybody desperately trying to connect with others, to be heard and hear back from loved ones.

View these photographs and more in our interactive Year in Review.

There are 9 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Whitey034
    February 18, 2014

    Plastic bags in the trees, it doesn’t look much different than what we see along the US highways. Doesn’t anyone care any more?

    • Jan Wiechowski
      February 18, 2014

      Man lost in his stupidity. Do not think about future generations, thinks he can mess because someone will come and clean up after him.

  2. suneel
    January 5, 2014

    Your photographs,no matter what the theme are always inspiring.

  3. JasmineSamantha
    January 3, 2014

    Connection is a great action to show our love for each other. I love the pictures especially the acacia tree. Its a great example to tell the world that a lie can make a huge mistake and there would be evidence even the smallest detail of the lie. I hope they will clean the mess up and plant trees.

  4. Dawn Scholes
    January 2, 2014

    I agree with Zoya – the acacia tree smothered in plastic bags is evidence that people have passed through and sadly shown no respect for this environment, polluting it with their litter.

  5. uttam kumar sarkar
    January 2, 2014


  6. Zoya Nursingh
    January 2, 2014

    Plastic bags smothering an Acacia tree and the insect life living on it, is BEAUTIFUL??? THIS does not behoove NatGeo-are you now sending a message that plastic garbage adorning trees will get your photo published in a widely read and respected publication as NatGeo? I am appalled at what passes for beauty in the eye of the beholder if the beholder is NatGeo.

  7. Blanca Pinon
    January 1, 2014

    Powerful photos …

  8. Jan Wiechowski
    January 1, 2014

    Odpady to światowy problem, a światełko do nieba to wspólnota między ludzka!

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