Brian's Photo Blog — Article 289
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October 2013 National Geographic Magazine
Friday 4 October 2013   —   Category: Other Photographers
This month National Geographic magazine published “The Photography Issue” — a 125th anniversary collector’s edition. Below is the impressive three-panel fold-out cover!
Inside this 170-page visual feast are four more multi-fold expanded pages, with six major and numerous shorter articles highlighting the important role photography plays in our human existence. The editor introduces the issue with this note:
Readers of National Geographic’s first issue can be forgiven for not being thoroughly captivated. The magazine that debuted in 1888 was a drab scientific publication of 98 pages wrapped in a plain brown cover. Several meteorological maps broke up the drone of black-and-white print. Articles included “The Classification of Geographic Forms by Genesis” and “The Survey of the Coast.”

This image of women in Lhasa was among the
first ever published in the Geographic.
And that’s how it pretty much remained for 16 years, until 1904, when the magazine’s printer told Editor Gilbert H. Grosvenor that he had 11 pages to fill. Grosvenor grabbed a package from the Imperial Russian Geographical Society containing some of the first photographs of Lhasa, Tibet, which was then considered one of the world’s most exotic places. He selected 11 and sent them to the printer, certain he would be fired and ridiculed. When the issue came out in January 1905, the opposite happened. People stopped Grosvenor on the street to congratulate him. So it was that photography, the hallmark of National Geographic and the most immediate means of communicating with our readers, came to the magazine. It was born out of desperation — and risk.

It is 125 years later, and we still take risks. Risk is part of creativity. That and our photographers' passion and commitment are as much a part of their gear as the camera.
The magazine is also interspersed with quotes from photographers about photography, printed in extra-large headline fonts:
  • “Photographers use their cameras as tools of exploration, passports to inner sanctums, instruments for change. Their images are proof that photography matters — now more than ever.” (no source indicated)
  • “Photography is a weapon against what’s wrong out there. It’s bearing witness to the truth.” — Brent Stirton
  • “A photograph is powerful proof. It’s indisputable evidence.” — Brian Skerry
  • “I fall in love with almost every person I photograph. I want to hear each story. I want to get close. This is personal for me.” — Stephanie Sinclair
  • “You want to reveal what life is like — to show things we may never fully understand.” — Lynn Johnson
  • “My job is to open people’s eyes to all the amazing things they didn’t know existed.” — George Steinmetz
  • “My pictures are about making people realize we've got to protect those who can’t speak for themselves.” — Michael “Nick” Nichols
Yesterday when I was out running errands, I eagerly scanned the magazine racks and check-out stands until I found myself a copy of this very special edition, dear to the heart of a photographer. If you would like a copy as well, I strongly encourage you to get one today before they are all sold out.

Here’s to another 125 years of awesome National Geographic photography!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 289
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