35 years ago, as a high school senior, I was invited to the National Geographic photographers’ yearly seminar (thanks to Clark Mishler, who was working in the Photographic Department at the time, saw my photos in a contest, and took the trouble to call my school and invite me to attend).
Every year that I go, I find it to be one of the most interesting, inspiring and intellectually invigorating experiences I can imagine. In the last 15 years or so, I have also been going to the Image Sales (now National Geographic Creative) business meeting, since they represent some of my stock photography. That meeting has also become one of the most interesting days of the year.
The business meeting recaps the past year for NG Creative and rolls out the plans for the year ahead. Over the years, I’ve seen NG Creative come into form, starting as an old-school stock photo agency, and turning into a nimble, smart and forward-thinking agency offering photos, videos, fine art, assignments and stock. It’s been a great education to watch Maura Mulvihill and Bill Perry build this department. (There’s a nice article in the January 2014 PDN magazine about NGC.)
The seminar day is always a real photographic feast. This year, the headliner was Danny Lyon, a Magnum photographer who has used his camera as a tool for advocacy. He’s a classic insurgent – irreverent, passionate, fighting for what’s right, and not afraid to tell it to the man exactly as he sees it.
In addition to Danny, we saw great presentations by Hasan Elahi, Wayne Lawrence, Newsha Tavakorian, Tyler Hicks, Vince Musi and David Maisel. While it’s always a bit overwhelming and humbling, this event also provides wonderful inspiration for the new year.