January 11, 2014

Searching for Signals

Photograph by John Stanmeyer, National Geographic

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.

See more pictures from the December 2013 feature story “To Walk the World.”


See this and other photographs from our list of favorites from 2013 »

42 comments
John Lyon
John Lyon

Seriously stunning photograph!  Without reading the caption I had a completely different take on the photo, thinking it was symbolic/ethereal.  The caption tells a more dramatic meaning...

Hans Straub
Hans Straub

Great image. Has a surreal feel, as though the men were waiting for something from above. 

Jonas Catampo
Jonas Catampo

I wonder where exactly in djibouti is this photo taken. I am here in djibouti working as an expatriate and

this picture don't suprise me because i have witnessed with my own eyes this place is already influenced by foreign and reached by modern technology.



Alan Webb
Alan Webb

It's hope is the last thing that is lost.

Pamela Cui
Pamela Cui

it is so fascinating how social media reaches  in each corner of the world.

Isabel Correia
Isabel Correia

The final example from our bigger search for a signal! But the signal, will we ever see or hear one true signal?

Eugene Chok
Eugene Chok

for some reason the idea of watching the people as a person from antiquity enters my mind, this must seem like some sort of mystic or religious practice, people by the sea waving their glowing orbs around 

Fred C.
Fred C.

you realize you can buy a range extender depending on the signal.

Lawrence Sibley
Lawrence Sibley

The glowing cell phone screens seem to be gathering energy from the orb of light in the sky.  This could be a scene from a science fiction movie portraying stranded space travelers attempting to make contact with their home world or mothership.  The postures of the people in the photo conveys an atmosphere of reverence and longing.  They could be spiritual supplicants wishing for the bestowal of divine grace.


The photographer's choice to make this photo with a very low point of view close to the ground contributes greatly to it being so successful.  I think it actually looks better displayed on a computer than it did printed on paper in the magazine. 

Janice H.
Janice H.

All of the Human race seeks and longs for connection!      Powerful photograph that says so many things.    Beautiful.

Joy Saldanha
Joy Saldanha

Small human hand held diamond's in the sky. Paul Sutton says it just right, I can only give the kind of  comment that I know how to, see it as I do, and offer the feeling that  come to me with each picture that I very much enjoy. This one is so awesome. j.e.s.

Paul Sutton
Paul Sutton

Stunning! Hauntingly beautiful!


I love the way the context of the image brings together both the ancient, primal instincts of our human nature, and the modern technology we use to facilitate them.

John Mulligan
John Mulligan

We all need to connect, different but so much alike.'

Stella Dineva
Stella Dineva

I love National Geographic! You can deliver the most interesting and moving moments of humans' life so close to us that we, the readers, can feel what the depicted characters feel ... Great picture!

Jocelyn Zaruma
Jocelyn Zaruma

I love Nat Geo's photo of the day. The community always takes me around the world this way.

Muhammad Salman
Muhammad Salman

Eloquence to the set of words i.e. "A picture speaks a thousand words."

Yvonne Johns
Yvonne Johns

@Fred C. Are your statement is inference of this photo? I am confused. They are 'impoverished'. ?? This photo is example of humanity of human life in my opinion...just saying :-)

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