Blue Chalk Video by Rob Finch and Jamie Francis Shot for

Melissa Farlow/Ami Vitale National Geographic Traveler Seminar in DC March 2nd

Learn to take better photos in D.C.! View in Web browser.
NG Traveler Photo Seminars
Washington, D.C.
Storytelling Photography
New Photography Seminar
Learn how to take your skills to the next level and create memorable, powerful visual narratives. Photographers Melissa Farlow and Ami Vitale will show you how to build a photo essay that reflects people, places, and moments in an authentic, meaningful way while showcasing your own unique style. View amazing images and see your skills improve in just one day!
Sunday, March 2
Washington, DC
National Geographic Society
9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
$195 per person
Includes lunch
Space is limited!
Register Now
Melissa Farlow Melissa Farlow has photographed numerous projects for National Geographic, including magazine and book assignments. Farlow began her career working on newspapers. She won a shared Pulitzer Prize while working in Louisville, where she also won a National Headliner Award. She was recently honored with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the Indiana University School of Journalism and was inducted into their Hall of Fame.
Ami Vitale‘s journey as a photojournalist has taken her to more than 80 countries. Her photographs have been exhibited around the world in museums and galleries and published in international magazines including National Geographic. Her work has garnered multiple awards from prestigious organizations. Ami Vitale

Our photographs in Christies Limited Edition 125 Years of National Geographic Auction

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Bob Gilka, Legendary editor dies at 96

Photo by J. Bruce Baumann

This is from the NPPA blog:

ARLINGTON, VA (June 25, 2013) – Robert E. Gilka, a newspaper photographer and editor who was a mentor to legions of photographers and who was the director of photography for National Geographic Magazine for more than 27 years, died today.

Gilka was 96 and in hospice care in Arlington, VA, photojournalist Bruce Dale said, and he was battling with his third round of pneumonia this year when he peacefully passed at 4:40 a.m.

“Bob was a father figure to me, and to many of us who may not have had a father,” Dale told News Photographer magazine today. “He dressed us down when we needed it, but he always stuck up for his staff. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to defend his photographers.”

“The halls and offices of National Geographic are buzzing with Bob Gilka stories,” Chris Johns told News Photographer magazine today. Johns, who was only 28 when he was named the Newspaper Photographer of the Year, and who only three weeks ago was promoted to Geographic’s editor in chief and executive vice president, probably knew Gilka as well as anyone over the decades.

“There is laughter and there are tears because Bob touched so many lives in remarkable ways. He was an honest, direct, no-nonsense gentleman we never wanted to disappoint. He didn’t gush and go on and on about our work, but we knew he cared deeply about us and believed in the work we were doing. He encouraged us, set standards of excellence and instilled in us the desire to become better photographers and editors. And, most importantly, he inspired us to grow in all aspects of our lives. Bob made me want to become a better son, husband, father, colleague and friend. I speak for many when I say how truly grateful we are to have known Bob and worked for him.”

A protégé of Gilka, Johns is the first photographer to be named editor in chief of the magazine. Gilka was a mentor to so many of the leading magazine and book photographers of our era, many who shot their first assignments for National Geographic motivated more to prove themselves to the sometimes-gruff photography director than to see the credit line “National Geographic” behind their byline.

Photojournalist and editor J. Bruce Baumann said today, “When Gilka retired from the Geographic, I sent him a note expressing my gratitude for being the father I never had. He was always there for me and so many others. I also told him that I was sad that had retired. He wrote back and in typical Gilka fashion said, ‘I still have my memories.’ Those words continue to serve me well to this day. He was the best of the best and I loved him.” Baumann was a Geographic photographer and picture editor who worked for Gilka before he returned to newspapers.

Read more…

“Working For Free”

From PHOTOSHELTER: There’s an interesting conversation going on over at The Atlantic about working for free. The talk is among journalists, but it’s not much of a stretch to bring it into the photography (or really any creative) space.

It started last week with journalist Nat Thayer, who was asked by The Atlantic website to repurpose a blog post for free. The original article, “25 Years of Slam Dunk Diplomacy: Rodman trip comes after 25 years of basketball diplomacy between U.S. and North Korea”  was posted on After it was published, an editor from The Atlantic emailed Thayer to ask if he would be interested in adapting a version for their website – for free.

Thayer took to his blog and posted his correspondence with the editor.

“We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month,” said the editor in her email to Thayer. “I understand if that’s not a workable arrangement for you, I just wanted to see if you were interested.”

To that Thayer responded: “I am a professional journalist who has made my living by writing for 25 years and am not in the habit of giving my services for free to for profit media outlets so they can make money by using my work and efforts by removing my ability to pay my bills and feed my children…Frankly, I will refrain from being insulted and am perplexed how one can expect to try to retain quality professional services without compensating for them.”

Read more at Photoshelter

Awards Video

“Courtesy of the IU School of Journalism”


Melissa Inducted into Indiana Hall of Fame… Journalism Profs Roll Over With Disbelief…


This story was posted on Jan. 2, 2013.

Six new members of the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame will be inducted into the organization at a ceremony April 27 at Indiana University in Bloomington.

The new members, honored for their distinguished careers in newspaper or broadcast journalism or journalism education, include:

  • The late Joe Aaron, a longtime reporter and columnist for the Evansville Courier. Aaron joined the Courier in 1955 after working for newspapers in New Mexico, Montana and Virginia. He began writing a five-days-a-week column for the Courier in 1957, continuing until he died of a heart attack in 1986 at age 57. Aaron won a National Headliner Club Award for best local interest column, but the greatest tribute to his appeal might be that the Evansville Courier & Press continues republishing his columns in its Sunday editions 26 years after his death.
  • farlow

    Melissa Farlow, a native of Paoli, Ind., an award-winning photojournalist for National Geographic and several newspapers. She graduated from Indiana University in 1974, after which she became a photographer for the (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal. Her work chronicling riots over court-ordered school desegregation helped the Courier-Journal win the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. She later worked for the Pittsburgh Press before joining National Geographic, for which she has gone on assignments around the globe. She has also been an instructor with the Missouri Photo Workshop for more than 25 years. [Read more...]

National Geographic Christie’s Auction | Links to Our Photos and Some We Should Have Bought

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Annenberg Space for Photography Exhibit and Film “No Strangers” opens in LA on November 17


LOS ANGELES, CA (August 23, 2012)–The Annenberg Space for Photography is pleased to announce its next exhibit – no strangers: ancient wisdom in a modern world, a group show about the wonder of culture and the plight of indigenous people throughout the world. no strangers is guest curated by esteemed anthropologist, author and photographer Wade Davis. This exhibit opens to the public in Los Angeles on November 17, 2012 and runs through February 24, 2013.

no strangers explores the ways cultures express a shared humanity and navigate the circle of life. It poses a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? When the people of the world answer this question, they do so in 7,000 unique voices. Tragically, half of these may be silenced within a generation or two. At risk is our human legacy, a vast archive of knowledge and expertise. Rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of culture is a crucial challenge that should be faced.

Photographers featured in the exhibit are Carol Beckwith & Angela Fisher, Wade Davis, Chris Johns, Lynn Johnson, Steve McCurry, Randy Olson, Chris Rainier and Hamid Sardar.

…The exhibit will feature an original short documentary produced by Arclight Productions for the Annenberg Space for Photography. The film will be shown in vivid detail on two 14’ by 7’ screens in 4K resolution. Filmed in locations throughout the world, from Washington, DC to British Columbia, Canada to London to Mongolia, the documentary will feature additional photographs, interviews and behind the scenes footage with exhibit photographers, indigenous people and experts. The film will examine indigenous cultures through photography’s lens and encourage viewers to consider ancient traditions in a new context.

The themes explored in the exhibit include: The Circle of Life, Our Shared Origins,
Ancient Wisdom, Sacred Geography, Endangered, Globalization, Ritual & Passages, Beauty, Quest for Spirit and Joy of Culture.

Instagram-And the Intersection with Professionals

National Geographic magazine opened up it’s Instagram account to a number of us and was received enthusiastically as a “behind the scenes” way for photographers to communicate. Here are a couple of paragraphs from the BJP article. You can click on the link at the end to read more.

But one household name was quick to realise Instagram’s full potential. A few weeks after its launch, Instagram signed its first major brand partnership with National Geographic. When the deal was first announced, the goal was for National Geographic to share photo tips and offer photography challenges to its followers. But in recent months, it has become an integral part of the magazine’s operations – with professional photographers taking over NatGeo’s feed of images – reporting instantly from their travels and photo shoots. As a result, a number of renowned photographers have created their own accounts and are now building their own following of dedicated photography enthusiasts.

BJP claims that Instagram signed  with NG as a “brand partner,” in the graph above, but I’m not sure that is actually true. There was an article in TechCrunch about the possibility of this, but folks at NGM who should know, say a deal was never made.

What is interesting is how different publications are dealing with this phenomena, the New Yorker is paying a different photographer each week to add photos to their Instagram account. NGM is not paying but feels the additional traffic to the individual photographers will make it worthwhile. Ed Kashi has photographed for both feeds and talks about the future possibilities in the BJP article:

“What concerns me is that this is yet another channel for creating and disseminating photography that does not bring in income. At least not yet,” says Kashi. “I gather ‘building your brand’ is all the rage and while I acknowledge the importance of that, it’s not why I create nor do I see a direct correlation to making a living and developing this field into the digital era where creators’ work is respected, compensated and properly appreciated.”

[Read more...]