By Jim Colton
Growing up as a teenager is the 1960’s with both parents in the journalism field, (Dad, the Director of Photography for the Associated Press and Mom the Art Director for People Magazine) there were always magazines and newspapers in the house. But the two staples that always graced the coffee table were LIFE magazine and National Geographic, delivered by subscription mail and arriving each month with great anticipation.
As with many readers, I flipped through LIFE magazine from back-to-front starting with the feature on the last page called “Miscellany.” It frequently displayed a photo which more often than not brought a smile to my face. It was surely one of my first encounters with the power of photography and its ability to move the viewer in some way bringing deeper meaning to many of life’s whimsical situations.
On a bit more serious note, I was equally fascinated by the little magazine with big impact,National Geographic. I remember the bookshelf in our living room which was lined with the trademark yellow boundary, perfect bound monthly issues….stacked as neatly as a library. Each issue brought me to places around the world, enriching my life with cultures I might never have the chance to experience in real life. And every issue also came with an outrageous fold-out map with amazing detail which would keep me occupied for hours!
In my later years, as a professional photo editor, I have grown to appreciate the amazing visuals that continues to bring to their readers…and…I have a profound respect for the people behind the scenes that make that possible. One of those people is their Executive Editor, Dennis R. Dimick.
Dimick is not only a champion for great photography and great stories but he is also acutely involved in the magazine’s coverage of environmental issues, a topic that is near and dear to his very existence. In addition to overseeing all of NG’s environmental stories, you will find Dimick speaking about climate change on the lecture circuit, jotting thoughts on his blog and Twitter as well as posting his images on Instagram, Tumblr, and 500px (see links below). And for almost 20 years, he’s also given back to the industry as a faculty member of the Missouri Photo Workshop emphasizing documentary photojournalism inspired by the 1930’s Farm Security Administration photographers like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange.
I don’t know where he finds the time to do all this, so I was flattered when he agreed to allow me to steal some of that precious time to share his thoughts on everything from his early influences to environmental issues to how National Geographic has tackled the digital landscape once littered with boxes of Kodachrome.