When I was little I used to watch National Geographic’s “Natures Nightmares.” Despite my fears after watching the show, I was intrigued how the natural world was and worked and had its place. Later on in life I went over to my great uncle’s house. As he and my grandparents talked I went into the living room, and on his coffee table there sat a stack of National Geographic Magazines, The top one had a picture of a volcano, so I picked it up out of boredom and started looking through it. I didn’t read it, I just looked at the pictures, though I don’t remember them I just remember thinking it would be so cool to be able to take pictures good. See ever since I was eight or nine I’ve had some sort of camera in my hand, using them for everything from taking pictures of butterflies for my school teachers to making animations out of legos; it’s like a passion for me. So looking through these photographs just blew my mind. My last birthday my aunt gave me a National Geographic book. This book had National Geographic’s best photographers and their work. Theres no dressing up the photograph it’s all how they see it at that moment. Whether it’s a bird swooping down on and skimming the water with their beak like a ball point pin rolling across paper, or a fish that looks like he should be from another planet. I believe in National Geographic because there are no lies in their photographs. They frame the shot to where it looks believable and thats the beauty in it. I believe in National Geographic for the way the get you thinking outside of the frame. They make your imagination make up the rest of the photograph. Or the opposite, how they capture it all such as the great vast space of the western plains but in that great expanse sits a withered up cedar stump. But don’t think that they ignore the things that our eyes can’t catch or just pass over. That fly that sits on your sandwich, National Geographic makes it possible to see every hair, every octagon in it’s eye, or every vein in its wing.
National Geographic has a spectacular way of taking you all over the world just on the thin sleek magazine pages. Whether it’s in Canada at a marsh where a Whooping Crane is taking off from the water like a plane on a runway. Or in South Africa where you see a city lit up with dazzling lights but in the center of the photograph sits a building that has a tent like roof and round edges; it’s name is Soccer City. Or a perhaps the Afghan girl and how her eyes tell of the desperation, restlessness, and fear that is in her peoples’ hearts.
National Geographic knows no fears when it comes to adventure. Whether on the front lines in Iraq where a troop of American Soldiers confront a terrorist; or a Bengal Tiger looks eye to eye with the man or woman looking through that lens; or under the foot of an elephant where if it steps too far to the right you will get crushed. National Geographic will do anything to get that shot. Or at a check point in Pakistan where theres a man that has a black cloth draped over his face and not being able to see his face, kind of a mysterious guy, the face of the man being interrogated can be seen as he thinks through the options and the risk if he decides to help them. That is what it takes and time after time they have proved it in each breath taking photograph.
When it comes to culture and religious stand points in society, National Geographic specializes in that. Such as in Europe on the hillside looking over a Turkish city of Kars, there is an incomplete statue of praying hands representing Armenia that will probably never be completed due to the protest from the people that are opposed to the construction. Or inside of a low lit shrine where some women are congregating together and praying. In Pakistan you see a mans bloody back and in his right hand he is holding a chain with three blades dangling from it and his left hand holding his head as he cuts himself in honor of Muhammad’s grandson Husayn.
National Geographic has a way of capturing feelings also. A man in some old dirty clothes huddles in the corner of the house on a couch under a picture of his wife, wide eyed; you don’t have to guess that he’s cold you can see him almost shivering but you also see fear in his eyes and you can’t help but have pity on him. You see a group of kids playing, and in all the middle of it there are cows eating out of a trough. There does not seem to go together but you can tell in this part of the world poverty is relevant. On the side of all this there is a group of boys in a circle holding hands smiling and laughing; there are no secrets here just the innocence of childhood.
But more than anything I believe that National Geographic will not stop inspiring me to try to shoot for that “wow” photograph or to just shoot to show people the things that you miss if you walk by to fast, or if you look too hard. To shoot for those pictures that make people laugh. To shoot for those photographs that make people think. Because of them, I will shoot and shoot until I get that photograph. For now I will look to National Geographic to inspire me.