IRIS lecture David Griffin: “Inside National Geographic Magazine”

May 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is my second week in a row of culture in Los Angeles. Who would have thought?

On Thursday evening I was lucky enough to attend yet another IRIS lecture at the Annenberg Space for Photography. This lecture featured David Griffin, the Director of Photography for National Geographic Magazine. In a word, his talk Inside National Geographic Magazine was fantastic. Now, I have been a fan of National Geographic from childhood when I would steal borrow my older brother’s subscriptions that came to the house to flip through the pictures. It is safe to say that now I appreciate the photos in the magazine a little differently. But I still borrow his magazines (shh!).

Griffin spoke honestly and openly about the things that National Geographic (NG) looks for in a photographer: talent, planning and flexibility. These things are crucial to the magazine, and the photographer needs to be able to consistently communicate a sense of place, people, action, and must have technical prowess. Consistency is the key, in that a person can have luck and snap a good picture, but as a NG photographer, one needs to have the skill to create good (NG standards here) images on a regular basis. Griffin touches on this point in the following video from February 2008, which also shows some of the images that he spoke of at the Annenberg:

TED Talk: David Griffin on how photography connects us

Griffin also spoke of the innovations in photography that NG has had in the past, from the first photo published in the magazine in the late 1800’s as just an illustration to accompany the technical article to the newest innovations that are in practice today for the photo essays. He also spoke of the innovations that the magazine is making in this digital age as print circulation declines, such as NG on the Apple iPad.

Getting a glimpse inside of this magazine’s photographic process was an amazing and inspiring experience. I truly enjoyed every moment Griffin spoke and could have easily listened to him for a few more hours.

Thank you to the Annenberg for making quality speakers available for these IRIS nights. I look forward to many more of these lectures (such as photographer Ian Shive next week).

And as always, thank you for stopping by!

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