‘Explaining the diversity of this group is the easiest way to answer the question, “How do I become a National Geographic photographer?” I usually answer this question by saying: “It is not easy or glamorous (see Reality Check). And this is not where you begin your career. You are competing with world-class documentary photographers and within that genre there are men and women who are the absolute best at their specialty. There are a number of specialists — underwater photographers with different skills — one works in very deep water; a couple photograph at all depths and temperatures; one dives in caves, another holds his breath under whales; and then there is a guy who just works in puddles. One photographer travels all over the world to strap a big fan on his back to shoot aerials. There is a bug guy, an archeology specialist, and a number of folks that photograph critters. There are climbers, conflict photographers, portrait photographers and landscape specialists.” Then I usually end with how amazed I am that I can survive in this crowd as a generalist… in such esteemed company.’ -Randy Olson, About the Photo Society
The Photo Society site’s been live for a little while, and it’s got a wealth of information for those wanting to learn a little more about the people and processes behind National Geographic’s photography. Started at the behest of National Geographic’s Photographer’s Advisory Board, the site collects stories and snippets from a host of the magazine’s contributing photographers. Initial momentum, and what got me to peek at the site initially, started with a list of the various ailments and mishaps encountered by these photographers while on assignment. They’ve had 90 cases of severe diarrhea, 16 parasitic infections, 33 arrests, 21 paraglider crashes, and 1 viper in a camera bag, among other things. But there’s more to the site than that. The blog is frequently updated with links and original content. A few posts of note: Bill Allard Explains How He Became a National Geographic Photographer, I Went Blind in One Eye Shooting First NG Assignment, and How to respond to requests for free photography. That last one shouldn’t be surprising to me…there’s a certain comfort in knowing that even at the highest levels of photography, you’ll still get asked for free work.