Friday, May 20, 2011

Sam is More Than Abell

View of Cannon Beach from Ecola State Park, Oregon  © Doug Hickok

Ever since I was a kid, I have loved paging through National Geographic magazines. I was captivated by the pictures and maps of far away places that I found fascinating, places I wanted to learn about and visit one day. I was completely moved by the premise behind their motto, "Inspiring people to care about the planet." But it wasn't until I became interested in photography in my early 20's that I gained a true appreciation for just how amazing the photographers behind the photographs were. They worked unceasingly to find the most revealing vantage point, the most beautiful light, the most dramatic mood, the most telling human gesture or expression, or the most exciting wildlife behavior. They often worked in the most challenging and dangerous environments. Approaching their photography in a journalistic though artful manner, the emphasis was always on getting the image right in-camera. Over time I came to admire the work of many of these photographers.

So my pick for today's Favorite Photographer Friday is Sam Abell, one of many great NGS photographers whom I find inspiring. Quite unlike Ernst Haas and Pete Turner (previous FPF photographers), Sam Abell's color images are often quiet, understated, and sometimes almost monochromatic. His book The Photographic Life offers fascinating insight into what it was like to be a NGS photographer and even illustrates the processes he used to create some of his most iconic photographs. If you ever see his book in a library or used book store, scoop it up. You'll be fascinated. You can see some of his images here, and his website here.
Have a great weekend!

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