Photograph by O.D. Von EngelnOn a 1910 National Geographic Society expedition, a photographer crouches by the shore of Yakutat Bay, Gulf of Alaska, to wash his film in the seawater. Faced with limited technology and assignments in remote places, National Geographic’s early photographers devised ingenious methods to produce the best images.
Photograph from National Geographic Society Image CollectionA National Geographic milestone, this photograph of a Zulu bride and groom in Witwatersrand, South Africa, became the magazine’s first picture of a bare-breasted woman when it was published in the November 1896 issue. The decision to run it set a precedent to publish photos of indigenous peoples "as they are."
Early Photo Series
Photograph by Dr. Joseph F. RockWhen Editor Gilbert Grosvenor needed to quickly fill pages of the upcoming January 1905 issue of National Geographic, he published an unprecedented 11 pages of pictures, including this photo of a 600-year-old monastery nestled on Tibet's Minya Konka mountain. It marked one of the earliest photographic series ever published.
Photograph by Bell CollectionInventor and early National Geographic Society President Alexander Graham Bell created this tetrahedral truss kite, designed with three-dimensional triangles that could support considerable weight, in order to study aerodynamic design before attempting to build airplanes. Together with new National Geographic Editor Gilbert H. Grosvenor, Bell steered the magazine in a new direction, favoring more photography and popular coverage.
Photograph by David E. FordArchaeologists discovered this mummy and skulls in a cave in Peru in 1915, during a joint National Geographic-Yale Peruvian expedition headed by Hiram Bingham. By bringing cameras to the field, National Geographic helped bring archaeology into people’s homes through the pages of its magazine.
Underground Color Photos
Photograph by Jacob J. GayerThe Dome Room in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Cavern marked the first underground color photograph ever shot, published in the September 1925 issue of National Geographic. The Geographic has made a number of color photographic firsts, including the first undersea color photographs and the first color photographs from the air.
Aerial Color Photos
Photograph by Melville B. GrosvenorNational Geographic assistant editor Melville Bell Grosvenor made the first aerial color photograph when he took this shot of the Statue of Liberty by circling the monument in a Navy Airship ZM C2. The photograph, which was published in the September 1930 issue, led the National Geographic Society to adopt the Finlay process, then the newest method for producing color photographs.
Revisiting Past Subjects
Photograph by David Alan HarveyThirteen years after he was first photographed, a Guatemalan village mayor poses with a photo of himself taken by photographer David Alan Harvey in San Juan Atitán. Photographers in the field often form lasting relationships with their subjects and return to visit friends and revisit the past.