National Geographic

2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year

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National Geographic recently announced the winners of the Travel Photographer of the Year contest for 2018. You can see the winners here and the people’s choice awards here.

I don't know why, but that alligator one really intrigues me. Maybe it's because I just spent the last ten days in a cabin on a lake and watched my kids play, almost daily, some form of king of the mountain (on rafts). I bet that's what those gators are doing too. And if I were the current king, I'd be leery of the big momma coming to claim her throne . . . sheesh.

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  Photography  :  best of . . .

National Geographic is examining their history, because it's pretty racist.

"I’m the tenth editor of National Geographic since its founding in 1888," Susan Goldberg writes. "I’m the first woman and the first Jewish person—a member of two groups that also once faced discrimination here. It hurts to share the appalling stories from the magazine’s past. But when we decided to devote our April magazine to the topic of race, we thought we should examine our own history before turning our reportorial gaze to others" (via).

One of my favorite comedians once said, "If someone calls you an asshole you can't say, 'No I'm not,' because it's not up to you!" The correct response is to say sorry, and then ask what you did wrong. And that is exactly what National Geographic is doing. 

The article continues:

Unlike magazines such as Life, Mason said, National Geographic did little to push its readers beyond the stereotypes ingrained in white American culture.

“Americans got ideas about the world from Tarzan movies and crude racist caricatures,” he said. “Segregation was the way it was. National Geographic wasn’t teaching as much as reinforcing messages they already received and doing so in a magazine that had tremendous authority. National Geographic comes into existence at the height of colonialism, and the world was divided into the colonizers and the colonized. That was a color line, and National Geographic was reflecting that view of the world.”

. . .

Mason also uncovered a string of oddities—photos of “the native person fascinated by Western technology. It really creates this us-and-them dichotomy between the civilized and the uncivilized.” 

Yet, on February 18, 2018, National Geographic published a video that attempted to show the story of human evolution through paintings on a face. The video is brilliant, but it's also a reinforcement of all that National Geographic is trying to move away from.

Right before we turn into machines (I guess), is the light-skinned human. It's so subtle because it's lost in the brilliance of art, but it's there, and it engrains itself into our psyche every single day.

“If I were talking to my students about the period until after the 1960s," Mason states,  "I would say, ‘Be cautious about what you think you are learning here.'" . . . "At the same time, you acknowledge the strengths National Geographic had even in this period, to take people out into the world to see things we’ve never seen before. It’s possible to say that a magazine can open people’s eyes at the same time it closes them.”

Although National Geographic is making great strides and is an example to us all on self-evaluation, Mason's warning to students of the 60's is a warning that still applies today: be cautious about what you think you are learning here. 

The article ends with, "We hope you will join us in this exploration of race, beginning this month and continuing throughout the year. Sometimes these stories, like parts of our own history, are not easy to read. But as Michele Norris writes in this issue, “It’s hard for an individual—or a country—to evolve past discomfort if the source of the anxiety is only discussed in hushed tones", and I think that's brilliant. National Geographic isn't perfect, but they're also not defensive. They're taking a good hard look at themselves and they're inviting us to join them in the process, to join in the discussion. 

I hope we're mature enough to handle it.

 

You can read the full article, "For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It" here. And I would encourage you to. It's pretty great.

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :  On Race :  On Living

Nat Geo's Travel Photos of the Year

"The results of the 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest are now in, with grand-prize winner Sergio Tapiro Velasco set to receive a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions, for his incredible shot of lightning striking the erupting Colima Volcano in Mexico (below). National Geographic was kind enough to allow {ALAN TAYLOR} to share the winners and honorable mentions with us here, from three categories: Nature, Cities, and People. The photos and captions were written by the photographers, and lightly edited for style" (via)

The Power of Nature - Grand Prize and 1st Prize Nature Category. Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on December 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning rod of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, illuminating the dark scene. In last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of the night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average

The Power of Nature - Grand Prize and 1st Prize Nature Category. Powerful eruption of Colima Volcano in Mexico on December 13th, 2015. That night, the weather was dry and cold, friction of ash particles generated a big lightning rod of about 600 meters that connected ash and volcano, illuminating the dark scene. In last part of 2015, this volcano showed a lot of eruptive activity with ash explosions that raised 2-3 km above the crater. Most of the night explosions produced incandescent rock falls and lightning not bigger than 100 meters in average

Al Ain - Honorable mention, Cities. New city on the desert.

Al Ain - Honorable mention, Cities. New city on the desert.

The Man’s Stare - Honorable mention, People. The photo was taken on July 23rd 2016 at Tongi Railway Station in Gazipur, Bangladesh. I was there taking photos and waiting for a moment. A train from Dhaka toward another district stopped at the platform for 5 minutes for lifting passengers. It was raining a lot. Suddenly I found a pair of curious eyes looking at me through the window and on his left an umbrella has been put to protect from the rain. I got the moment.

The Man’s Stare - Honorable mention, People. The photo was taken on July 23rd 2016 at Tongi Railway Station in Gazipur, Bangladesh. I was there taking photos and waiting for a moment. A train from Dhaka toward another district stopped at the platform for 5 minutes for lifting passengers. It was raining a lot. Suddenly I found a pair of curious eyes looking at me through the window and on his left an umbrella has been put to protect from the rain. I got the moment.

Interesting Moment - 2nd Place, People. Museum visitors curiously watching Rembrandt's painting "Syndics of the Drapers' Guild" where it gave the illusion that the people on the paintings too are curiously watching the visitors.

Interesting Moment - 2nd Place, People. Museum visitors curiously watching Rembrandt's painting "Syndics of the Drapers' Guild" where it gave the illusion that the people on the paintings too are curiously watching the visitors.

 

My favorite is "The Man's Stare." What a captured moment. 

 

For more on . . .

-N- Stuff  :   Amazing Photos :  Nat Geo 2016 Year in Photos  :  Portrait Photography of Martin Schoeller

 

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Portrait Photography : Martin Schoeller

I first came across portrait artist Martin Schoeller when he published his "Faces of America," and I've since seen him pop up in various places. 

What I love about his work is that, as he says on his About page, the people he is photographing "are treated with the same levels of scrutiny as the un-famous. The unknown and the too-well-known meet on a level platform that enables comparison, where a viewer’s existing notions of celebrity, value, and honesty are challenged." 

And I just love that.

You can see more of his work on identical twins, close ups of famous people who are still on the same level as the rest of us, female bodybuilders, and portraits.

"Schoeller’s close-up portraits emphasize, in equal measure, the facial features, both studied and unstudied, of his subjects— world leaders and indigenous groups, movie stars and the homeless, athletes and artists— leveling them in an inherently democratic fashion" (via).