Meet the extraordinary people who make our photography possible

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Photographer relationships are at the heart of great photojournalism, some of which stand out more than others. Between photographers and those who appear in their images, there are those who are built on trust and a common desire to convey something to the world. Only photographers and writers work together to display the National Geographic story on screens or pages, and only photographers and writers are signed at the top of each article, between office photographers, writers, and story teams. Has a partnership.

However, in the field of Nat Geo photo assignments, there are even more unnamed individuals who are essential to achieving good visual storytelling. These can be extraordinary journalists in their own right, with additional roles, especially as local producers, assistants, drivers, or translators. They build trust and access to the community, provide research and additional images, provide technical expertise, find solutions to unexpected challenges, and even navigate dangerous situations. ..

They can even save the lives of photographers, like Nat Geo photographer John Stanmeyer and long-time fixer Heri Yanto.

“Without the helicopter, I would have been killed in East Timor,” says Stan Meijer. “The helicopter brought a knife to his stomach during a rally by anti-independence supporters in August 1999 and pushed me aside because the blade was for me.” Together, he summoned Heli Yantmeyer and John Stanyanto, and both Yant’s children adopted part of Stanmeier’s surname. Yant died of diabetic complications in 2010, but Stan Meijer still thinks of him almost every day. “He was my best friend and brother,” he says.

The signature of one photographer believes in partnership work, special bonds formed over months or years of shared experience in the field, and the true diversity of behind-the-scenes teams. We asked Nat Geo photographers to share stories and images of the amazing people they worked with at work. Without them, National Geographic storytelling was simply impossible.

Below is a description of the photographer in their own words, edited for clarity and brevity.

Kiliii Yüyan, Jake Soplanda

Jake is one of the great pilots. You can fly slowly through ice swamps at ultra-low speeds and land on small short landing trips between snowmen. In Nat Geo’s mission on the Arctic Flyway in Alaska in 2019, he takes me to a little Super Cub, gears up, finds a landing point, and lands on a bumpy hill that’s not much bigger than an airplane. Was completed. Above, he is cruising low on Lake Teshekpuk in Alaska.

Hannah Reyes Morales, Nam Eun Tsegumid

I worked in Mongolia with reporter and researcher Namuun Tsegmid. He helped us connect with our family and make them feel comfortable. In this story about lullabies, we worked with a team of all women from local producers from different countries. Above the center, Nam Eun can be seen in sub-zero winters in Mongolia, waiting patiently in the cold while looking for a place to photograph the night landscape. After we left, Namun helped us track down the nomads without phone numbers and registered domiciles, or the descendants of the deceased lullaby composer.

Jimmy Chin, Mikey Schaefer

Mikey was an assistant to multiple NatGeo assignments, including Yosemite, Oman, and Free Solo assignments. The term “assistant” greatly underestimates the role he played in these projects. He acted as a rigger, logistics manager, photographer, cinematographer, confident and all-round villain. I wouldn’t have been able to pull off any of these shots without him.

He got me on track, solved impossible problems, and literally and figuratively covered my blind spot.

Sarah Stucke, Sina Brings Plenty (left) and Tami Hale (right)

Sina Brings Plenty in the upper left is my guide, fixer, grip, and friend while talking about the landfill of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in the stolen land of Cherokee, NC and beyond. did. Sina helped scout the places associated with the person being photographed. She jumped with me on ethical and cultural questions and always provided valuable insights.

At the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota, Tami Hale in the upper right generously shared her story and knowledge of Lakota culture. She was walking around the graveyard with me until she found the historic tomb we found, but how long did it take and how cold the wind was.

Anastasia Taylor Lind, Aza Andreasian

Aza and I worked together in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2011 and talked about a childbirth incentive program that pays family cash for each child born.

When the war broke out in September 2020, I asked Aza if she would return with me. A few days after the ceasefire, Aza called the Hakobian family we spent 10 years with. They had just returned home and remembered me — Aza had been in contact with them all the time — and we visited the same family’s house and ate a big feast with them. The children were growing up. 9-year-old Inner showed me a family photo album with a picture of her newborn. Lilit, who was 10 when I last took the picture, is now 19 and had her own newborn baby. Her husband, a soldier, lacked action.

Aza walks the world with elegance and warmth that I cannot say. She no longer works as a producer or journalism, but came to Karabuff because she wanted to revisit the people she knew well.

Carlton Ward Jr., Maria Bertus

Malia Byrtus managed the remote camera system for the Path of the Panther project and helped create many photographs in the April 2021 magazine article “Return of the Panther”.

Maria is a true explorer, in fact, and from the bottom of her heart. She joined me as an intern in 2017, and in her first week of work, I really had the opportunity to test her energy. I was in Washington, DC for the Explorer’s Fest, and the rainy season came early in the swamps of South Florida. Maria went to the field of my Land Cruiser and rescued the most vulnerable lowland camera from the flood. My truck was trapped in the mud, so water was starting to enter the door. But she figured out how to use a winch to rescue my truck and bring it to a hill. Then she sat down in a swamp to rescue the camera and encountered a big crocodile on the way. A local biologist told her about the situation, and Maria cut a long wand to poke water in front of her, discouraging Gator from approaching. In the end, she saved the truck and camera.

Chris Graves, Marshall Shootle

In the story about the Navy monument, a friend and talented artist, Marshall Shootle, embarks on a 24-day journey with me as a photo assistant, safety watchman, time organizer, and driver. Gave me. Marshall is a great photographer and I’m inherently envious of the work he can produce, so he kept me in my game. One day we took a two hour drive from Augusta to Atlanta, Georgia. During the trip, I told him that I would only drive for 3-4 hours to film the monuments between the cities. In the end, I ended up shooting over 15 monuments in 9 hours, both of which were exhausted by the evening. Without Marshall, traveling would not have been possible.

Katie Orlinsky, Corinne Danner (left) and Edgar Aquino Huerta (right)

I first met Corinne Danner in the upper left during the Inupiat community of Utqiagvik’s annual spring bowhead whale harvest in 2016 to talk about self-sufficient hunting and climate change in Alaska. did. Utqiagvik is Alaska’s North Slope hub and is used by visitors, but invites outsiders to the Arctic sea ice amid the dangers the crew is currently facing, especially the dangers they were born and raised. Doing is still a big problem. In New York City with zero hunting skills. Until Corrine found the perfect job for me: Camp Cook, I helped, paved the way, carried supplies, and carried meat as much as I could. Spending time with Colline and her family and learning about their land and way of life was privileged and awe-inspiring. Without her, that wouldn’t have been possible.

While talking to an immigrant blueberry farmer in southern New Jersey about COVID-19, I met a recent college graduate and up-and-coming filmmaker Edgar Aquinofuelta who worked at a local garden store. Edgar was once a blueberry farmer and his support and guidance was irreplaceable. He met me at 6am, found a notorious farm with bad conditions, and helped connect me with agricultural workers and local immigrant activists. Shortly after our collaboration, he got a job at the CATA Agricultural Workers Commission and made his own film.

Editor’s Note: Many of these assignments were funded by the National Geographic Society. learn more About the support of the association of explorers.

Dear readers, do you like how we saw behind the scenes of our work? Want to read more about the people involved in telling our story? Please tell us.

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