125 Years of National Geographic: The Photo Issue

National Geographic magazine started publication in October 1888 as the official journal of the National Geographic Society, a nonprofit dedicated to funding science and exploration across the planet. The magazine marks its 125th anniversary with a special issue devoted to photography. 

Called “The Photography Issue,” the issue focuses on the medium the magazine has helped to shape, looking at how photography has the power to impact our lives by bearing witness, helping to prove fact, giving us insight into each other, revealing unknown places, celebrating wonder and inspiring us to protect our natural world. 

See our preview slideshow above and read an excerpt from an essay titled "The Power of Photography" by Robert Draper:

Today photography has become a global cacophony of freeze-frames. Millions of pictures are uploaded every minute. Correspondingly, everyone is a subject, and knows it—any day now we will be adding the unguarded moment to the endangered species list. It’s on this hyper-egalitarian, quasi-Orwellian, all-too-camera-ready “terra infirma” that National Geographic’s photographers continue to stand out. Why they do so is only partly explained by the innately personal choices (which lens for which lighting for which moment) that help define a photographer’s style. Instead, the very best of their images remind us that a photograph has the power to do infinitely more than document. It can transport us to unseen worlds.


 The full text is in the October 125th anniversary issue of National Geographic as well as many more stunning photographs covering the magazine's entire 125 year run.