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Just Like Heaven
Our happiest places, through the camera’s lens and the mind’s eye.
When I opened the “Happy Place” theme that became this showcase, I expected vacation photos. Umbrellas in drinks, ski slopes, shopping malls, that kind of thing. But I’m delighted that instead you submitted so many moments of joy from normal life. Rapture in the routine. Appreciation of the little daily details. These are the moments that matter — count them when they come and remember them when they don’t. Without further ado, a page of bliss from that website that usually makes you cry.
Not in Kansas Anymore ∞
Western Kansas wasn’t for me. I spent a year in a remote town three hours away from a real city in any direction. The flat, barren landscape did nothing to pique my interest, and I found little to photograph. One spring afternoon as the wheat fields were sprouting and the sky was a beautiful blue, I dusted off my camera and started shooting. I realized then that my happy place is behind the viewfinder of my camera, no matter where I am.
Photographer: Brenda Thomson
Brenda Thomson is a writer and photographer living in Oklahoma City.
Happy Campers ∞
Living outside for two months with the same 25 to 50 people creates bonds unlike any other. For many years, I travelled to Camp Freeland Leslie in central Wisconsin to live and work at a Boy Scout camp. I learned what hard work and brotherhood really mean. I learned how to chop wood and build the perfect log cabin style fire. I learned the songs, stories, traditions, and ideals of the campers who walked the grounds before me. This campground will always hold the most special of places in my heart.
Photographer: Brendan Shanley
I’m a photographer and graphic designer living in Chicago.
Sounds Like Fun ∞
When I’m with music and people who make it, nothing hurts, nothing is boring, nothing is a problem. If just for a moment, we are real and alive, wild and quiet and still, united.
Photographer: Stephanie Thompson
I’m Steph. I live in Los Angeles. I work in the corporate world by day and live in the creative world by night. I’m a freelance photographer and free-spirited artist.
Wild Horses ∞
We stopped for a snack break while searching for the famous herd of wild ponies in Grayson Highlands Park, Virg. This stallion joined us, creating a magical moment with the animal and in the place I love most.
Photographer: Leigh Bramblett
Sea Spray ∞
Where would I rather be on a beautiful summer day than riding a ferry off the coast of Southern France? On the way back from the Island of Port Cros, the wind picked up the sea water and sprayed it all over the deck, giving this rare, brisk feeling of being alive and free.
Photographer: Christoph Larcher
I’m a Ph.D. student in Chemistry at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. I started taking pictures three years ago.
Love Boat ∞
Like thousands of other commuters, I live in Oakland and work in San Francisco — but I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to ride the ferry between work and home. It gives me exercise and open air if I need it, or beer and wind in my hair if I need that instead. It also provides the most amazing people-watching. Woefully under-clothed tourists, groups of awed school children, European rock stars (or those trying to look like rock stars), families spanning three generations of Giants super-fans, knitting gentlemen in three-piece suits, retired seamen returning to their favorite port of call; I’ve seen and met them all.
Photographer: Bethany Herron
Bethany Herron is a professional writer and painfully amateur photographer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her two “this’ll get the conversation started” bits of personal history refer to living on an island in the South Pacific as a child, and driving a train.
Family Farm ∞
My earliest memories all include lush grass, landscapes, and my father — the result of an idyllic childhood on a New Zealand farm.
Photographer: Sam Coltart
I take photos, travel, design special effects and animation, and lately split my time between NYC and Madrid (with some visits back to New Zealand).
Regal in Pink ∞
Just when I thought my family couldn’t get any stranger, a moment like this comes along and takes my breath away. My grandma, so regal and arresting, even in her pink pajamas. My mother, so beautiful when she’s not crunching numbers. My cousins, so alive and rollicking when not stuck to a blackberry screen. My aunt, fifty-two years old and still rocking the body of a teenager. And me, capturing this New Year’s Day photo on my grandmother’s pink patio because I’m terrified of the day when this slice of heaven will be gone.
Photographer: Coco Videla
Coco is a storyteller, explorer, and creative strategist based in Paris.
Of House and Home ∞
In my twenty-two years, I’ve moved thirteen times. No one can pack a box like I can. For a long time, I believed home was simply a place to sleep — but when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, my world of constant movement slowed down. This small yellow house belongs to the woman who gave me roots, and it’s my solace, my shelter, and my sanctuary. It may not be my address, but it’s where I go when I want to go home.
Photographer: Nicole Berger
I am currently a student attending Northern Kentucky University, majoring in Photography.
Rockin’ the Suburbs ∞
After the 1994 earthquake, my single mother and I transplanted from suburban Los Angeles to a small condo in Las Vegas. Vegas was never really a fit for either of us. Each year I looked forward to spending the summers with my aunt and uncle in Calabasas, California. I swam in their pool and played with my cousins and the neighborhood kids in their cul-de-sac. I got to be part of the Southern California lifestyle that I missed so much. It felt comfortable, welcoming … it felt like home.
Photographer: Audrey Love
I am a photographer and installation artist working and living in Reno.
“Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life?”—READ MORE ABOUT THE SCIENCE OF HAPPINESS AT THE ATLANTIC
City Slicker ∞
As a native Singaporean, I find myself drawn to the back lanes of Little India over the tourist-filled, colorful main drags. These alleyways are full of discoveries and surprises, and are frequented by hard-working construction workers from India and Bangladesh.
Photographer: Yogendran Sandiran
I am half Tamil, half Filipino, and quintessentially Singaporean.
Sunday Soccer ∞
Land is scarce in Singapore, so youths make use of every empty field to play the country’s most popular sport, soccer. Here, a group of teenagers who live in my neighborhood converted a recreational field into a mini soccer pitch for our weekly soccer session.
Photographer: Mo Zhuang Ze
Highly self-motivated and goal-oriented individual committed to pursuing a career in photography. 2.5 years of experience in photography and currently serving National Service in Singapore as Division photographer.
Paradise Within ∞
While this may look like just a traffic jam to most, to us, it’s a photograph of the door to the old part of town in Rabat, Morocco. This wall separates the taxis and horns and grand boulevards from the lovely winding alleys of the medina, or traditional quarter, where we’ve spent a collective year or so living. Behind that wall there are no cars — just people walking, hawking, praying, shopping, talking.
Photographer: Telephone and Soup
Telephone and Soup are Casey Scieszka and Steven Weinberg, collaborative artists/writers/illustrators who have lived in Morocco. They have an illustrated book coming out about their international travels, “To Timbuktu”.
A Passing Smile ∞
After weeks of traveling alone through Sri Lanka, I found myself on an old train high up in the Ceylon Mountains. This passing smile from a woman on another train encapsulated the unmistakable feeling of joy I had experienced during the previous weeks.
Photographer: Garret Clarke
I live in Taiwan. I study Chinese and teach English. I live here so I can take pictures across Asia.
Le Happy ∞
This is where I go in Portland when I’m feeling down. Not only does the outside of this cheery restaurant and bar instantly make me feel better (for obvious reasons), but inside they specialize in making fantastic sweet and savory crepes, are open late when most places are closed, and also have PBR tall boys on the cheap.
Photographer: Dave Tuttle
I take simple photos for simple people in Portland, Ore.
Cozy Corner ∞
What constitutes comfort changes over the course of a lifetime. In my younger days it might have been the beach, or a ski slope, or an amusement park. Now, in my mid-fifties, surrounded often by other people and their wants and needs, I’m most content in the tiny room in my house that I’ve taken for my very own. I’ve filled it entirely with things that are pleasing exclusively to me — fluttery wallpaper, antique hand mirrors, an engraved depiction of a childhood song called “Who Killed Cock Robbin?” and most important of all, a quilt that my grandmother made for me.
Photographer: Leighton Gleicher
My name is Leighton Gleicher and I live in New York City. I retired from a corporate job several years ago and began taking photographs as a way of reconnecting with and really seeing the world. I am passionate about people, and my goal is to take pictures that can tell their story in a single frame.
On Hallowed Ground ∞
US troops invaded this beach in Normandy to liberate France during World War II. The entire cliff top is marked by impressions and valleys that bombs left behind, and the remnants of German forts provide ample underground rooms to be explored. The salt in the air, the huge dropoff down to the beach, and the strange quiet makes for a very calming experience.
Being where so many men lost their lives in the name of a set of beliefs, and altered the course of humanity, is a really powerful experience. History is my happy place.
Photographer: Emily Turner
I’m a student and amateur photographer in New York City by way of Louisiana. The Battle of Stalingrad started on my birthday in 1942.
Alone with the Ocean ∞
Sure, Monterey in the daylight is beautiful. Old men in polo shirts jabber on about golf stats and property prices, while gaggles of tourists snap endless photographs of loved ones before the dramatic scenery. Endless throngs of folks from all over shuffle up and down the sandy trails, pointing at the barking seals and taking in the majestic panoramas of California’s Central Coast.
The real magic comes after dark. The sun sets and the need for sleep summons the masses back to their hotel rooms. The crowds are replaced with an eerie, foggy silence, intermittently broken by the crashing of an unseen wave against a pillar of rocks. The rhythmic rush of waves mix with the clammy cool ocean air at the edge of the world.
Photographer: Michael Wriston
I am an amateur social landscape and once-in-a-while nature photographer living in Seaside, Calif.
Coney Island in the Sun ∞
You’ve been away for a few months now. Even though I know you’re coming back soon, a sadness still gets me sometimes. I go back to the spot on the rocks where you got a mouthful of sand after falling out of one of your handstands and I tried not to drop my camera while I laughed and laughed. That spot on the beach, far enough from the amusement park to see it but not hear it, among the playing children and older couples taking in the sun, is my heaven on earth.
Photographer: Melissa Murphy
I am a photographer living in Brooklyn. I love taking pictures.