Top Photographers Choose the Pictures That Make Them Happy

We asked photographers to send us the one image that most says "happiness" through their lens; these are a few of our favorites.

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Elation

Photographer Marcus Bleasdale: “In 2007, Human Rights Watch asked me to photograph the street children in Kinshasa, a war-ravaged city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I took this photo inside a local resource center that provides the children a few meals and running water. The boy in front is one of the thousands of kids who sleep on the streets and scavenge at a local market for food and charcoal to sell. Despite his desperate situation, he still relishes taking a shower, a luxury that most of us take for granted." Learn how one city is turning buses into shower stations for the homeless.

Enchantment

Photographer Andrew Brusso: “I’m from Weeki Wachee, Florida, home of the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park mermaids, a roadside attraction that started in 1947. When I heard that the park was in danger of closing a few years ago, I volunteered to take promotional photographs. A mermaid asked me to photograph her with her 18-month-old twin daughters, who had been learning to swim at the spring since infancy. I consider the underwater images, which display the importance of tradition and reveal a connection to nature and the wonder of fantasy, some of the most meaningful of my career.” Learn about the amazing new water park for people with disabilities.

Delight

Photographer Seamus Murphy: “I shot this photo of a coal miner in front of his daily haul of coal in 2004 in the Takhar province of Afghanistan. I’ve been documenting people’s lives for decades, but this man, a member of a small community of Afghan Arabs, had the most carefree laugh I have ever seen.” Here are some facts you never knew about laughter.

Victory

Photographer Tom Hussey: “In 2008 and 2009, I traveled all over North Texas documenting my sons playing football for the Lakehill Preparatory School Warriors, a football team from Dallas that competed with only six players on the field at one time—instead of the traditional 11—and played other small schools that did the same. The games were frenetic and high scoring, and in a lot of ways, these boys were the ultimate athletes. Many of them played both offense and defense, and they loved it. I captured this moment of the opposing team after a game in 2009.” You won't believe the heartwarming reason one high school football team lost on purpose.

Exuberance

Photographer Josh Rothstein: “This is my friend Cara jumping down the stairs in an old apartment building in Brooklyn. The dreamy quality of the photo transforms the gritty surroundings into a beautiful, serene place. I also took a leap soon after I shot this photo. Cara set me up on a blind date with a woman who eventually became my wife.” You'll be amazed by one mom's incredible reality-altering artwork—especially when you learn that she did it all on her phone!

Movement

Photographer Steve Vaccariello: “I love photographing dancers because we can collaborate as artists to come up with an amazing image comprising athleticism, form, light, composition, expression, and emotion. One fall day in 2010, I asked this ballerina, a performer with the American Ballet Theatre, to show me something powerful and joyous from a recent show. Because the movement was so taxing on her body, I had only three chances to get the shot. When I saw this image, I thought, This is the perfect moment!” Here's why dancing can immediately make you feel younger.

Joy

Photographer Vern Evans: “I caught this moment as a group of Tibetan Buddhist nuns took a break from class outside their school in Dharamsala, India, in 2008. [The Chinese government] prevents Tibetan nuns from learning and practicing Buddhism in their home country. I’m a big guy who wears a cowboy hat, so I think my appearance got them smiling. All the nuns’ eyes sparkle with such joy—you can almost hear them giggling. We all know the stories of the Tibetan people’s suffering, so to see the nuns in a moment of spontaneous laughter makes me feel that everything will be OK.”

Color

Photographer Jeff Rennicke: “As a volunteer at the Northwoods Children’s Museum in Eagle River, Wisconsin, last year, I witnessed creativity in action: a dozen eight- to ten-year-olds dipping their hands in jars of finger paints and swirling yellow and green and red to make sunflowers and fire trucks on drawing paper. After the kids left, all that remained was a row of their paint-splattered smocks. Hung together in a haphazard way, the smocks created a tapestry that reminded me that art should be joyous and raucous. Kids know that already.” Check out these amazing photos of a beautiful and colorful Indonesian town.

Exhilaration

Photographer Ken Shung: “I shot this photograph in June 1987 in Taishan, a city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. I was there visiting the village where my father grew up. The boy in front was part of a group of children following me around that day while I took pictures. This moment of the boy laughing as it started to rain reminded me of lyrics from the song, 'Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.' Because I’m free, nothing’s worrying me… Simple joys bring happiness to kids who have only a few friends and not much of material value." Learn about the photographer who is helping to find homes for foster kids.

Play

Photographer Lynsey Addario: “I shot this photo in 2010 at a Kabul, Afghanistan shelter for children whose parents are in prison. The little girl with short hair in the center of the photo is Gulaboo. Both of her parents and one of her siblings are in jail. Despite their circumstances, these girls still play and have fun like any other kids." This photographer turned kids with disabilities into the Justice League for an epic photoshoot.

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