Photo of the Week: September 3rd, 2013

By Stacy Gold

Photographer Joel Sartore documents animals big and small so we can look them in the eye and realize that all creatures have a right to exist. It’s easy to want to save big cute polar bears and grand elephants, but the little species are just as important to our planet.

I love the way this photograph from Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique shows the delicate beauty of a dragonfly interacting with the human element. 

Joel gave me some words to live by when facing the challenge of bettering this planet. “Just because you can’t do everything, is no excuse for doing nothing,” he said.

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Photo ID: 1582368 | Joel Sartore/National Geographic Creative

A female orange emperor dragonfly collected from Gorongosa National Park. Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.

Photo of the Week: September 3rd, 2013

By Stacy Gold

Photographer Joel Sartore documents animals big and small so we can look them in the eye and realize that all creatures have a right to exist. It’s easy to want to save big cute polar bears and grand elephants, but the little species are just as important to our planet.

I love the way this photograph from Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique shows the delicate beauty of a dragonfly interacting with the human element. 

Joel gave me some words to live by when facing the challenge of bettering this planet. “Just because you can’t do everything, is no excuse for doing nothing,” he said.

image

Photo ID: 1582368 | Joel Sartore/National Geographic Creative

A female orange emperor dragonfly collected from Gorongosa National Park. Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique.

Preparing for Perpignan

By Sam Peters

Most of us are looking forward to the day off on Monday, September 2nd. But a select group of dedicated staff and photographers here at National Geographic Creative won’t be taking a long weekend at the beach. They’ll be in Perpignan, France, for professional week at the 25th annual Visa pour l’Image (working the entire time, obviously). Account executive Gina Martin and senior vice president Maura Mulvihill will represent our agency at the festival, while National Geographic Creative photographers Paul Nicklen, Nick Nichols, and Matthieu Paley, will have stories screened on Visa’s signature three-story-high canvas.

Stranded on top of the World” will be screened on Monday. In preparation, Matthieu took the time to talk to me about the story’s background and what he is working on next.

Stranded on top of the World” is a story that was 13 years in the making. Matthieu says the story fell into his lap while he was working in the Karakoram Mountains of Northern Pakistan in 2000. “Over the years I returned many times –[on] month-long expeditions, and the story of this community slowly grew on me, to the point of obsession,” he recalls. “The Afghan Kyrgyz tribal leader had recently passed away and it was a critical time to go and tell the story of this extremely secluded, high-altitude community.” 

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“The story for the [National Geographic] magazine was the result of two expeditions to the Afghan Pamir plateau. I pulled my years of knowledge of the people, the language, and the terrain to get it done,” says Matthieu, remembering the 20 days of travel alone. Along with senior photo editor Elizabeth Krist, he chose images that show a direct connection to the community.

“Communities and isolation is what drives me most in my work,” Matthieu happily shares, when asked what inspires him to pursue stories about isolated cultures. “Photography is a lot like psychology: communicating trust and respect. I think it is especially difficult in secluded communities to be accepted. It often requires time and effort, like learning a new language. But I absolutely love the challenge of it. I like to believe it’s one of my strengths to be accepted.”

Matthieu has also shot a book about the Pamir Plateau. Except the book, also called Pamir, focuses on his relationship with the area. “It mixes personal ‘making of’ images within the text with larger portfolio spreads,” he explains. “The book is about my personal story with that part of the world. From my first encounter in 2000 on a high pass on the Afghan-Pakistan border, to my three-month expedition with my wife in 2005 with our donkey, Clémentine, delivering letters.” Pamir also includes details of his expedition in the winter of 2008, which was the first trip anyone had made to the plateau during that season in 37 years.

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“I live in a small village on the Aegean Sea, in Turkey, with my wife and two kids. It’s not really the ideal photography networking place,” Matthieu says when asked about why he’s excited to go to Visa pour l’Image. “In photography, good work is essential, but it’s not everything. You need to meet editors face-to-face so they know you better, understand your motivations. In any trade, personal contact is key. So it’s important for me to go to photo festivals like Visa. Meeting friends and editors, being inspired, getting a kick and coming out of it exhausted and exhilarated with new contacts and new ideas. [That’s] why I enjoy going there.”

Matthieu’s work in Central Asia will continue, he says. “While I always keep my eyes on the remote part of the mountain world, I am getting more and more attracted to the vast blue spaces between continents. Some of the communities living on remote islands have a lot to teach us. They can be like microcosms of our world.”

“I have a project in one of these islands,” he wryly admits. “But you know how it is: if I tell you, I will have to kill you.“

Preparing for Perpignan

By Sam Peters

Most of us are looking forward to the day off on Monday, September 2nd. But a select group of dedicated staff and photographers here at National Geographic Creative won’t be taking a long weekend at the beach. They’ll be in Perpignan, France, for professional week at the 25th annual Visa pour l’Image (working the entire time, obviously). Account executive Gina Martin and senior vice president Maura Mulvihill will represent our agency at the festival, while National Geographic Creative photographers Paul Nicklen, Nick Nichols, and Matthieu Paley, will have stories screened on Visa’s signature three-story-high canvas.

Stranded on top of the World” will be screened on Monday. In preparation, Matthieu took the time to talk to me about the story’s background and what he is working on next.

Stranded on top of the World” is a story that was 13 years in the making. Matthieu says the story fell into his lap while he was working in the Karakoram Mountains of Northern Pakistan in 2000. “Over the years I returned many times –[on] month-long expeditions, and the story of this community slowly grew on me, to the point of obsession,” he recalls. “The Afghan Kyrgyz tribal leader had recently passed away and it was a critical time to go and tell the story of this extremely secluded, high-altitude community.” 

image

“The story for the [National Geographic] magazine was the result of two expeditions to the Afghan Pamir plateau. I pulled my years of knowledge of the people, the language, and the terrain to get it done,” says Matthieu, remembering the 20 days of travel alone. Along with senior photo editor Elizabeth Krist, he chose images that show a direct connection to the community.

“Communities and isolation is what drives me most in my work,” Matthieu happily shares, when asked what inspires him to pursue stories about isolated cultures. “Photography is a lot like psychology: communicating trust and respect. I think it is especially difficult in secluded communities to be accepted. It often requires time and effort, like learning a new language. But I absolutely love the challenge of it. I like to believe it’s one of my strengths to be accepted.”

Matthieu has also shot a book about the Pamir Plateau. Except the book, also called Pamir, focuses on his relationship with the area. “It mixes personal ‘making of’ images within the text with larger portfolio spreads,” he explains. “The book is about my personal story with that part of the world. From my first encounter in 2000 on a high pass on the Afghan-Pakistan border, to my three-month expedition with my wife in 2005 with our donkey, Clémentine, delivering letters.” Pamir also includes details of his expedition in the winter of 2008, which was the first trip anyone had made to the plateau during that season in 37 years.

 image

“I live in a small village on the Aegean Sea, in Turkey, with my wife and two kids. It’s not really the ideal photography networking place,” Matthieu says when asked about why he’s excited to go to Visa pour l’Image. “In photography, good work is essential, but it’s not everything. You need to meet editors face-to-face so they know you better, understand your motivations. In any trade, personal contact is key. So it’s important for me to go to photo festivals like Visa. Meeting friends and editors, being inspired, getting a kick and coming out of it exhausted and exhilarated with new contacts and new ideas. [That’s] why I enjoy going there.”

Matthieu’s work in Central Asia will continue, he says. “While I always keep my eyes on the remote part of the mountain world, I am getting more and more attracted to the vast blue spaces between continents. Some of the communities living on remote islands have a lot to teach us. They can be like microcosms of our world.”

“I have a project in one of these islands,” he wryly admits. “But you know how it is: if I tell you, I will have to kill you.“

Alison Wright on Portrait Photography and the Publishing Process

By Sam Peters

Alison Wright’s new book, Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit was just published in March, and, as always, her keen eye shows through.

Twice each month, this blog will feature highlights from a conversation with one of our photographers. For our first post of this series, Alison was willing to take the time to tell us about her unique take on portrait photography and how she approaches the publishing process.

Alison says she has always loved capturing portraits. The intimate view of a person, and by proxy, their life, inspires her. “It’s the emotive beauty and grace of the human face, in all its diversity, that will never cease to amaze me,” she says. From geishas to children, and even the Dalai Lama, Alison welcomes the challenge of showing her subject’s story through a portrait.

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“By far the Dalai Lama is my favorite person to photograph,” she responds when asked to choose. “He effuses such happiness. He’s simply a joy to be around. And it’s always a challenge to photograph such an iconic person in a new and personable way.”

 That challenge of creating a personal connection is what drove the selection of images in Face to Face. “[It’s] curated from a triangular viewpoint,” Alison explains. “I saw the subject, now they look back at you, the viewer. I wanted to create a connection with the eyes.” Through “an intimate stare, a knowing glance, [the subject’s] situation becomes a shared experience, a more personal connection,” she says. “Their eyes all seem to radiate a dignity; a claim for a right to be seen, no matter what their circumstances.”

Having such a deep connection to each portrait she’s taken, Alison says her biggest challenge with this book was editing. “They call it killing your beauties,” she says. “It’s hard to let go of the images you feel an attachment to. I have thousands of images of people that I feel emotionally connected to.”

So she got creative with the process: “When I was deciding on the layout, I lined my New York apartment hallway with all the prints,” she recounts. “Although my neighbors were intrigued, the superintendent of my building practically had a heart attack. I’ve since moved.”

Face to Face is Alison’s ninth book and she still feels nervous excitement when the first copies arrive at her door. “As photographers we have to adjust to seeing our images in various incarnations, from light coming through them on the computer screen, to prints, to books. They all take on a different look,” she says. “Images seem ephemeral on the computer screen, and so concrete in a hardcover book.”

It’s more than just mediums that give new life to photography for Alison. “Working with others helps me see my work in a different context,” she says. Already hard at work on another book, she enjoys the collaboration of the editorial process.

Alison has also been traveling for most of this year. Her ongoing travel and commercial photography assignments keep her busy, but she always makes time for her humanitarian projects. “I’m very focused on photography as activism,” she says of her work on the “Tibetans, Burmese refugees in Thailand, and poverty in America,” to name a few. Alison is “always spinning a lot of plates on sticks.”

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Alison’s portait of the Dalai Lama (photo ID 1046255) and her portait of a Mexican Dancer (1429948) are both available for licensing.

Photo of the Week: July 1st, 2013

By Stacy Gold

We go to photography festivals to get inspired, to learn about something we haven’t seen before, or sometimes just to catch up with old friends. One little piece of advice I’ll take away from the Look3 Festival of the Photograph I attended this year is a quote from Josef Koudelka who said, and I’ll paraphrase:  The sunrise only comes a limited amount of times in your life … so don’t miss one. 

Is it ironic that I chose a photograph from the “Night Gardens” story by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel to share today? I don’t know. You tell me.

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Photo ID: 1561865 | Diane Cook and Len Jenshel/National Geographic Creative

Claude Monet’s water lily garden.

To London! And Back

By Gina Martin

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Working in the international editorial market for National Geographic Creative has its negatives and positives.  Negative: I have 50 (rush) emails waiting for me by 7 a.m.  Positive: I get to travel to meet with existing and potential clients.  In April, I traveled to the UK for the London Book Fair and FotoFringe.  It was a productive and fruitful 12-day work trip, packed with many meetings followed by long hours working from my hotel room.   

Luckily it was not all work.  There is much to see and do in London as a tourist, but my favorite thing to do is to check out small galleries and museum exhibitions.  And this time was no different. I was fortunate to be in town to see some wonderful photography exhibits – from a David Bowie retrospective, to Man Ray’s portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, to a group exhibit at the The Photographer’s Gallery.  However, the true highlight of my trip was visiting the Natural History Museum for Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis exhibit.

This new project of Salgado’s is a body of work that celebrates Earth and its last few pristine and unspoiled areas. Salgado was at National Geographic in January for the Magazine’s annual Photography Seminar. I have been a fan and admirer of his work for years – but was not familiar with Genesis. He presented and shared this project in the auditorium to a packed house.  It was classic Salgado – powerful, grandiose, and unique. However, seeing this body of work exhibited in beautiful large prints – was truly breathtaking.  From nature to animals to indigenous people – he reminds us of what the world looks like without the heavy imprint of man.

As I left the exhibit, I realized that Sebastião Salgado and National Geographic share the same mission – to inspire people to care about the planet.  

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Photo credit: Annie Griffiths/National Geographic Creative. ID# 517237. 

Representing Experts, Collaborating with Creatives

By Sara Snider Papademetriou

Having been involved in commercial photography sales for over five years now, I have noticed a clear trend of authority and expertise being woven into advertising campaigns. In this macro-info/micro-community era where consumers’ interests are so niche, brands need authenticity to firmly secure their space in their market.

Luckily, here at National Geographic Creative, adapting to that space is not difficult. We have the privilege of representing photographers and filmmakers who are also living, breathing encyclopedias on a variety of timely, relevant subjects. Our experts possess volumes of knowledge on topics from conservation to culture, technology to population, agriculture to travel and beyond. 

As the Commercial Sales Manager, I have the pleasure of matching these experts with campaigns that benefit from our talent’s unmatched reputations, skills, and knowledge. I love working with campaigns that tap into not only our photographers and filmmakers’ skills in creating images and videos, but also their authority and expertise. Sometimes that means a ‘classic’ endorsement. Sometimes it means they are not only shooting the campaign, but also its spokesperson. Other times, the photographer will stay behind the camera, but take on a more active, collaborative role with the creatives.

It amazes me every time I stop and think about the talent and knowledge that lies within our agency’s roster. I am honored to not only represent these experts, but also to know them personally.

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Photographer Stephen Alvarez on a rooftop with city bustle below.

Photo ID: 1503965 | Stephen Alvarez/National Geographic Creative

Tim Laman Never Stops Exploring

By Sam Peters

You probably know Tim Laman by his self-proclaimed passion project: documenting the Birds of Paradise –all 39 species. His success in bringing back these photos from remote places deep in New Guinea led to a stunning photo book and television special. Tim admits that expeditions to theses remote habitats were challenging, but “the rewards of capturing images of these extraordinary birds and sharing them with the world have been well worth it.”

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Tim entered the field of photography to become “a modern day explorer.” “I became interested in exploring nature and the outdoors in my youth, and enjoyed photographing my adventures,” he explains. “I trained as a field biologist, which gave me opportunities to do fieldwork in amazing places like the rain forest in Borneo. And photography became a tool for telling stories and sharing what I saw.”

Combining his professional skills as both a biologist and photography became the logical choice for Tim to further his goals of exploration. “That was the real motivating factor for me to push my photography skills and creativity to the utmost,” he says.

Despite devoting the past several years of his life and career to the Birds of Paradise project, Tim will not single out a favorite assignment. “How can I compare documenting the beauty of Hokkaido, Japan in the winter to exploring the diversity of marine life in Fiji’s coral reefs, or climbing spectacular rainforest trees in Borneo to photograph orangutans or hornbills?” he replies. Thinking about it more, he realizes he enjoys the anticipation of the next adventure: “In a way, my favorite assignment is always the next one coming up … the excitement of the unknown!” 

Getting ready for the next adventure requires preparation, and equipment. And Tim does not pack lightly. “If I am combining many types of exploration and photography into one trip, such as covering both marine life and wildlife in the rainforest canopy, I may need diving and underwater camera gear, as well as tree climbing equipment, camping gear, and another full set of photographic equipment. This can easily add up to eight or nine large checked bags,” he calculates. “If I am more focused on just one type of photography, then usually four or five bags will do it.” A true adventurer, Tim is always prepared.

While Tim is confident in his abilities as an explorer, sometimes it takes his clients a little longer to adopt the same sense of adventure. “While shooting a Canon TV commercial in Venezuela, I was tasked with shooting the stills for the accompanying print ads in only two days, which was a real challenge, considering the subjects were birds whose movements I couldn’t exactly control. To get the shots I needed, I overnighted on a small platform we constructed in the mangrove forest so I could get the shots of the birds flying in at sunrise. The director was understandably concerned for my safety,” he empathizes. “But I assured him this type of thing was standard procedure for a National Geographic wildlife shoot and nothing out of the ordinary for me.” Ultimately, “it worked out great and I got the shots.”

Sometimes, on assignment, directors are not the only ones in for a scare. “One pretty funny moment was when a New Guinea highlander in full war paint carrying a battle axe came aggressively toward me at a village ceremony where I had just started photographing,” Tim remembers. “I thought I was going to get busted for taking pictures, but it became funny when I realized he was saying “snap me,” and had just wanted his own picture taken!”

Tim is always happy to share the knowledge he gains from his assignments and trips, like the best place to dive in Indonesia. “That would have to be the Raja Ampat Islands of West Papua,” he gamely offers. “This is a remote and sparsely populated part of Indonesia that has simply the greatest diversity of marine life on the planet, combined with spectacular islands and amazing bird life in the forests.”

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Tim revels in all of his travels and adventures, and equally in returning home to give his wife and kids a big hug. “What I enjoy most when I’m at home is introducing my kids to nature and the outdoors, whether it’s going skiing or kayaking together, or just exploring the woods and fields near home and catching bugs,” he says. Tim hopes his children will have the same passion for adventure and exploration he does.

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Birds of Paradise and photo of Tim’s son are both available for licensing.

 

Alison Wright on Portrait Photography and the Publishing Process

By Sam Peters

Alison Wright’s new book, Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit was just published in March, and, as always, her keen eye shows through.

Twice each month, this blog will feature highlights from a conversation with one of our photographers. For our first post of this series, Alison was willing to take the time to tell us about her unique take on portrait photography and how she approaches the publishing process.

Alison says she has always loved capturing portraits. The intimate view of a person, and by proxy, their life, inspires her. “It’s the emotive beauty and grace of the human face, in all its diversity, that will never cease to amaze me,” she says. From geishas to children, and even the Dalai Lama, Alison welcomes the challenge of showing her subject’s story through a portrait.

image

“By far the Dalai Lama is my favorite person to photograph,” she responds when asked to choose. “He effuses such happiness. He’s simply a joy to be around. And it’s always a challenge to photograph such an iconic person in a new and personable way.”

 That challenge of creating a personal connection is what drove the selection of images in Face to Face. “[It’s] curated from a triangular viewpoint,” Alison explains. “I saw the subject, now they look back at you, the viewer. I wanted to create a connection with the eyes.” Through “an intimate stare, a knowing glance, [the subject’s] situation becomes a shared experience, a more personal connection,” she says. “Their eyes all seem to radiate a dignity; a claim for a right to be seen, no matter what their circumstances.”

Having such a deep connection to each portrait she’s taken, Alison says her biggest challenge with this book was editing. “They call it killing your beauties,” she says. “It’s hard to let go of the images you feel an attachment to. I have thousands of images of people that I feel emotionally connected to.”

So she got creative with the process: “When I was deciding on the layout, I lined my New York apartment hallway with all the prints,” she recounts. “Although my neighbors were intrigued, the superintendent of my building practically had a heart attack. I’ve since moved.”

Face to Face is Alison’s ninth book and she still feels nervous excitement when the first copies arrive at her door. “As photographers we have to adjust to seeing our images in various incarnations, from light coming through them on the computer screen, to prints, to books. They all take on a different look,” she says. “Images seem ephemeral on the computer screen, and so concrete in a hardcover book.”

It’s more than just mediums that give new life to photography for Alison. “Working with others helps me see my work in a different context,” she says. Already hard at work on another book, she enjoys the collaboration of the editorial process.

Alison has also been traveling for most of this year. Her ongoing travel and commercial photography assignments keep her busy, but she always makes time for her humanitarian projects. “I’m very focused on photography as activism,” she says of her work on the “Tibetans, Burmese refugees in Thailand, and poverty in America,” to name a few. Alison is “always spinning a lot of plates on sticks.”

image

———-

Alison’s portait of the Dalai Lama (photo ID 1046255) and her portait of a Mexican Dancer (1429948) are both available for licensing.