National Geographic magazine is one of the most popular books in the world. The reader, without leaving home, can travel around the world to all corners of our planet, to plunge into the atmosphere of the wild nature, learn the secrets of the deep sea and much more. The success and prosperity of NG are entirely the merits of the talented photographers, as three-quarters of the journal volume are occupied by the unique color photographs.
The chief editor is sure that it is better to see once than to hear a hundred times. That is why to become a photographer for National Geographic means go to the highest professional level for many photographers: to be able to always improve the knowledge and skills, become a well recognized and much sought-after, and, of course, receive higher annual revenues.
Even if you ask a chief editor on “How to become a photographer for National Geographic?” he will probably boggle: “There’s no such a recipe!” and he will be right. However, there are photographers who managed to find it, no matter what, and you know that! So, why not to find one for yourself, then?
Despite the shockingly responds that there are no recipes, that you’re under ill ambitions, and empty dreams, how to become a great photographer in the world remains a cornerstone for every photographer, not just you. Because once you make the best shots in the world, National Geographic knocks at your door, as large as life, and very aggressively. So, what can be done to make that happen, then?
Fundamental Rules for Featuring on National Geographic
In the first place, to make a high-quality photographic material, you need a reliable tool for creativity, i.e., you need to buy professional photo equipment. Skilled craftsmen advise Nikon. Nevertheless, the sky is the limit. Many photographers, despite the modern digital cameras fashion, continue shooting with mechanical devices. They also waste about 300-400 films in 36 shots for one article. Yeah, they make it hard.
Also, it is important to understand that production photos are completely unacceptable for National Geographic, not mentioning the fake ones. The main task is photographing people, animals and the nature in the wild. The photographer has to capture what is happening, without interfering with the process or its simulation, etc.
You choose what would be the subject and find the best angle. You need to take pictures from different points (top, side, bottom, etc.).
The trademark of National Geographic is portraits and photos of people telling about life on different continents, about their culture, life, philosophy, etc. The main purpose of these images is to show what they really are. Become a photographer for NG and you will work in hot areas or areas still untouched by humans, where you can take unique pictures of women in Saudi Arabia, homes of the Japanese geishas, princess castles, villages of African tribes, or Amazon rainforests.
When photographing people, do not be afraid to experiment, focus on different parts of their bodies: eyes, hands, hair, etc. Pick an interesting background and an unusual angle. Catch the moment when the facial expressions are the most articulate, when human emotions, feelings, reactions are plastic. Do not forget to be friendly and welcoming to strangers, learn their traditions and rules of behavior in their society to let you in and shoot them.
To make high-quality and interesting pictures of animals, birds, insects and so on, do not only have professional technical skills, know the habits, characteristics, and the language of animals. This will determine not only the success of your work but your life and safety too. Photographers sometimes have to demonstrate the wonders of endurance and resourcefulness.
A world-renowned photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols, for example, uses the camera traps to capture the animals, which is a conventional camera with infrared sensors that respond to movement, leading the work of the shutter and flash. This technique allows him to get the most accurate images of wildlife in the wild environment.
For those who want to shoot under water, it is important to learn how to swim well, to navigate, and be able to capture interesting shots. The object may be an underwater fish, marine animals, fauna, shipwrecks, etc.
Using a macro, or fill flash in dim light, can make spectacular pictures of animals, for example, catching the reflection of light in the pupil at the time of sunrise or sunset. There are dozens of subjects!
Where can I get ideas for stories?
Having enough money, the photographer can go to distant exotic countries for the material, shoot animals in their natural habitat, unspoiled wilderness, on mountain peaks, in caves, underwater and even more. These photos will certainly be interesting and informative, but it is not an absolute guarantee, for becoming a photographer for National Geographic.
The skill and the talent of the photographer are the ability to observe the world around and see the extraordinary in the ordinary, and attract the viewer’s attention to it. Therefore, sometimes it is enough to look around, to focus on the little things and find a fascinating and exciting story for the whole photo story.
A lot of famous photographers have managed to produce unique pictures at their country houses, or take a series of underwater photographs, plunging into a local river in the city centers, etc. All kinds of ideas will do. More important is the final result, if you convey the message with the help of your camera if the picture renders it for sure.
It may be a story of an insect in the sands searching for food, or a bird, weaving a nest for a younger generation, a person, traveling in the wilderness or climbing a mountain trying hard to survive, etc.
You must be ready for the fact that the work on such pictures takes a long time, and can last for months or even years. This work becomes a part of the person, his or her job of the whole life, and a real calling. Because you need to capture all the stages of a phenomenon, the process or journey may be never-ending and takes much patience, which it very clear without words and signatures. This can also be compared with the art of making movies. This should be both unusual regarding the form and the content.
A Tip From the Chief Editor
Everything genial is simple. National Geographic requirements are simple and complex at the same time: there are no excuses, no climate changes, no budget lack, no bad equipment, cold weather, no nothing! Either you are the best in the world, or work elsewhere. And this approach allows National Geographic to be ultimate. Nevertheless, there is a thing to bear in mind:
- No compromises!
The only way to become the best in the world is never to compromise.
When you take a professional camera for the first time, you should already be determined to become the best; you have to get to the National Geographic pages, study them and make great plans for it. Of course, the competition is as great as hell: many of your fellows may waste their whole lifetime trying to get through there. But that won’t stop you, will it?
Do not go on compromises. The only way to become the best in the world is to do what you do and never go astray or look back. And it is worth living too. Good luck with that!