One of my favorite parts of being a National Geographic photographer is meeting not just the people who pass in front of my lenses, but also my colleagues, who gather annually – akin to a family – for a meeting in Washington DC. Now, as well, they also have finally joined together in a group called The Photo Society, a group of contributing photographers for National Geographic Magazine that is committed to telling the world’s stories through pictures.
You can learn much more about them at http://thephotosociety.org/member .
My own pictures are at: http://thephotosociety.org/member/gordon-wiltsie/
Long ago I thought of some of my fellow photographers – especially adventure ones – as competitors. Today I number them as some of my closest friends. Who else in the world shares the same kinds of worries about staying alive both on our assignments and in the rapidly changing marketplace of photography today? Who else but one of these characters could I meet for the first time and talk all day without either of us repeating ourselves once?
As I think about many of the other sometimes-crazy photographers featured on this website, I am awestruck by the breadth of photographic potential they display. For those who are observant, you often don’t even need to see a photo credit to identify the artist, and, few of us could – or even would want to – copy another’s style. Even if we stood shoulder to shoulder, the pictures would be different.
Ironically, many Nat Geo photographers get their first assignments not because they stunned the editors with breathtaking pictures, but rather that they were passionate both about photography and also something completely different. I am always surprised by how many have PhDs in the subjects they photograph. Even I got my first project that way. A friend of mine just happened to mention to an old cohort-turned-photo-editor about a journey we were making to Antarctica. The magazine just happened to need some adventure pictures to round out a broader survey of the continent and suddenly I was hired – albeit on a tiny project.
To each our own, too. Consider the underwater specialists. No way would I want to carry fifty pounds of lighting equipment and underwater housings while sharks circled or I dove under polar ice. Nor do I want to rappel into active volcanic calderas or claustrophobic caves, sit for weeks in a wildlife blind, shoot one-handed as I steered a motorized paraglider, crawl through snake infested jungles in search of specialized ants, brave wartime bullets, or do so many other things that make National Geographic photographers particularly special.
This beautiful new site – which is reserved only for people who have published at least one feature story in the “yellow magazine” – shows a wonderful collection of visions. But beware. You could get stuck for hours.