It is printed in 36 languages with a global distribution of 8.6 million, has received countless honours and awards alongside its critical reception and is responsible for publishing some of the most respected photojournalism in the world. To call National Geographic an American institution would be something of an understatement.
Educational, exploratory and a purveyor of excellence, the magazine has always sought to push boundaries within the world of publishing and its success is reflected in its epic print run. From the society's inception in the early part of 1888 followed quickly by the first issue of National Geographic Magazine, the pioneering publication will celebrate a lengthy and fully deserved 125 years in October.
Amongst the celebrations – and in typical, full-colour-fashion – National Geographic have published a dedicated photography issue bringing together some of the most important photojournalism in recent history. Bound with the haunting and thought-provoking "Afghan Girl” from Steve McCurry and featuring images of Dr. Jane Goodall and her chimpanzees alongside a plethora of other iconic imagery, the 125th issue is overflowing with instantly recognisable photographs.
Now part of the 20th/21st century canon, these photographs remain contemporary and compelling regardless of age, with many of them adorning bedroom walls and office spaces in deference to their timeless quality. Sites such as Posterlounge offer a large range of beautifully printed, oversize canvasses taken from National Geographic archives, and many of the magazines themselves are highly collectable.
From Amateur to Accomplished
National Geographic's open and altruistic philosophy has also extended to the general public. 2013 saw another milestone for the society with the 25th anniversary of their open photography competition which sees upwards of 15,000 entries every year. Here, many amateur and yet highly skilled photographers get their shot at appearing in the world's foremost photojournalistic publication.
This year, first place went to an image from Wagner Araujo capturing athletes entering the water in Brazil’s Aquathlon (swimming and running). Presented in black and white but bursting with action and energy, this dynamic photograph bagged Wagner a 10-day National Geographic Expedition in the Galapagos alongside an unprecedented amount of exposure.
So why not take a look at the National Geographic archives this year and help celebrate more than a century of the best in photojournalism. Budding photographers will also find details on how to prepare for next year's competition alongside information on how to subscribe to this unparalleled publication.