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A Photographer's Life by Jack Dykinga

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CHAPTER 11The Pinnacle

People ask me with a sense of awe, “How long did it take you to become a National Geographic photographer?” My reply is, “Not long, but I needed a 50-year apprenticeship.”

At some point the Geographic became more amenable to featuring landscape-photography-driven stories. In response to a conversation with former photographer Chris Johns (the newly appointed Editor in Chief), I suggested a story that focused on the protected areas lining Mexico’s border with Texas. After the idea sat on the back burner for months, approval was finally granted.

The Geographic is one of those rare institutions that truly nurtures photographers. To outsiders, it appears that they coddle their stable of contract photographers with vast amounts ...

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