Steve McCurry’s iconic photograph of a young Afghan girl in a Pakistan refugee camp appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine’s June 1985 issue and became the most famous cover image in the magazine’s history. (Image: © Steve McCurry/National Geographic)
NOT ONLY HAS the National Geographic Society provided the world with some of the most stunning photography ever seen, it has also told the unknown stories behind those images.
Renowned for its adventure and exploration, the society is today marking its 125th anniversary. What started as a small scientific body is now one of the world’s largest educational and scientific organisations.
In a statement to mark the occasion, Natioal Geogrphic said it wants to reaffirm its role at the forefront of discovery. It is looking forward to “A New Age of Exploration”.
It will shine a light on adventurers at the cutting edge of discovery as well as innovations that push the boundaries of human achievement and scientific inquiry. These discoveries and innovations are enabling us to explore places and things we could never have imagined before. By providing a front-row seat to what’s happening at the extremes of exploration, the Society is encouraging everyone to be an explorer.
The organisation is marking its birthday in a number of ways, including commemorative books, a television special and a themed exhibition at its museum.
Here, and with the kind permission of National Geographic, TheJournal.ie take a look back at a selection of the society’s most iconic images from the past 125 years.
1909 | CANADA National Geographic funded Cmdr. Robert E. Peary’s 1909 expedition to the North Pole. Whether Peary and his assistant, Matthew Henson, reached the Pole or not, they came closer to that goal than anyone before them. (Photo © Robert E. Peary Collection, NGS)
1909 | ALASKA, UNITED STATES Washing his films in iceberg-choked seawater was an everyday chore for photographer Oscar D. Von Engeln during the summer months he spent on a National Geographic-sponsored expedition in Alaska. (Photo by Oscar D. Von Engeln)
1926 | DRY TORTUGAS Using a brassbound waterproof camera and dragging a raft rigged with a pound of explosive flash powder — the equivalent of 2,400 flashbulbs — marine biologist William Longley and National Geographic photographer Charles Martin stalked the shallows around the Dry Tortugas, making the first natural-color underwater images. (Photo by W. H. Longley and Charles Martin)
1931 | AFGHANISTAN In his favorite picture, legendary National Geographic photojournalist Maynard Owen Williams marveled how, in this Herat, Afghanistan, bazaar, no one blinked during the three seconds required to make the exposure. (Photo by Maynard Owen Williams)
1964 | TANZANIA A touching moment between primatologist and National Geographic grantee Jane Goodall and young chimpanzee Flint at Tanzania’s Gombe Stream Reserve. (Photo by Hugo van Lawick)
PERU The ‘Ice Maiden’, the 500-year-old mummy of a young Inca girl found on a Peruvian mountaintop by archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Johan Reinhard. (Photo by Stephen Alvarez)
UGANDA A lion climbs a tree to sleep, in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth Park. (Photo by Joel Sartore)
1964 | SOVIET UNION Behind the Iron Curtain: Workers parade through Red Square on May Day. (Photo by Dean Conger)