lang="en-US"> 2009 | National Geographic Assignment Blog

Archive for 2009

Romance in the Lighthouse

Posted on November 25th, 2009

Here are Larry and Pauline Butler, keepers of the Galley Head Lighthouse in County Cork on Ireland’s rugged and remote south coast. Larry and Pauline were both third generation lighthouse keepers. When I visited there years ago I saw the picture on the wall and asked who all those people were. “Oh, those are our children,” said Larry. “Really”, I said, “how many”. “Oh, fourteen,” said Larry! So we took them and the picture outside to do a portrait and while we were standing there talking about all the children, fourteen of them in a lighthouse, Larry gave this explanation. He flexed his muscles and said with a wry grin, “What else are you going to do at a lighthouse?” At which point Pauline…


Posted on November 19th, 2009

National Geographic photographers are known for their dauntless attitude, their ability to acclimatize in the most strenuous circumstances, and their relentless passion for tracking down and capturing powerful moments. A solid mind, a steady hand and  unwavering determination all play an essential role in bringing home the prize. But none of these virtues mean a thing unless a the photographer has a strong stomach. Whether one is eating eskimo ice cream (made out of a lovely mixture of reindeer fat, salmon eggs, and berries), or snacking on pig’s blood cake, a Taiwanese favorite, partaking in international fare can often make for a  strange and sometimes unappetizing situation. Especially when the polite thing to do thing is to finish every last bite. Dereck Joubert had…

Reindeer Games

Posted on October 8th, 2009

One of my career’s favorite assignments was for National Geographic/Adventure, documenting the ever-ongoing migration of Komi reindeer herders who live north of the Arctic Circle in Russia. These people had never before been visited by foreigners (although the men had served in the Russian army) and they lived a unique lifestyle blending old and new. In truth, writer Gretel Ehrlich and I only stumbled upon them by accident. We had expected to be traveling with the better-known Nenet herders. Photo Gordon Wiltsie As this photo suggests, the setting was awe inspiring. Here the clan is moving across the tundra, en route to their next camp in the distant taiga forest, where they can find firewood to burn for cooking and heat. The long poles…