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Illustrating National Geographic magazine science stories with photography can be a trying exercise. As a senior picture editor at the magazine, my process begins with exhaustive research; identifying key researchers; and finally contacting them to probe their wonderful minds (visiting them is even better). When this is complete, the translation of the science into the visual narrative begins and the collaboration with the photographer kicks in.
“The Next Green Revolution” in the October issue of National Geographic magazine is a good example. I had the pleasure of working with photographer Craig Cutler, a well-known conceptual photographer and director based in New York City. His editorial and advertising work includes clients such as IBM, Starbucks, MTV, NASCAR, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, and Bon Appétit.
Image by: Craig Cutler, National Geographic
To illustrate the research of Dan Chitwood at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, which I visited, Craig Cutler photographed a tomato together with sand in his New York City studio. Chitwood is crossing tomato plants with a wild relative from Peru’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, to create less thirsty varieties. Tomatoes are typically grown in hot, dry climates with a lot of irrigation water—more than 13 gallons per tomato on average.
To view this article in it's entirety, please visit the National Geographic website.
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