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National Geographic’s Stunning Photographs is an appropriately titled book. In its 400 pages you’ll find a large collection of stunning photographs created by National Geographic photographers.
In Stunning Photographs the emphasis is on the photography, but each section of the book is preceded by an introduction written by Annie Griffiths, who is also a National Geographic photographer. I dislike how the introductions are laid out, with paragraphs blending into one another, but I think they are worth reading.
The book is separated into themed sections, with the introduction and all the photographs in that section matching the theme in some way. And as with the National Geographic magazine there is a very wide range to the photographs, both in subject and style. One thing they all have in common is that they are excellent photographs.
These are photos we ask questions about. What are we looking at? Who is that person and what are they doing? Is that a snake in the sand? Or thousands of fireflies illuminating a forest, as in the photo above by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu created near Okayama, Japan?
Harmony implies a sense of balance, perhaps of color, or symmetry, or placement of subject within the frame. You look at the photo and it just feels right. Many of these are very peaceful or contemplative images. The photo above, created by David Clapp, is of a still pond and autumn color in Grasmere, England.
Many of these images will bring a smile to your face. Sometimes the scene, itself, is humorous. Other times it’s an interesting juxtoposition of elements. But wit can also by informative, as in the example above of a half-shorn sheep in Victoria, Australia. The image was created by Cary Wolinsky who wanted to show how much wool a sheep grows in a season.
This is what National Geographic has always done so well. Taking us someplace new. Showing us a scene we’ve never seen before. Portraying a creature or person in a way that wakes us up to the fact there is still so much to see in the world. The image above, created by Christian Klepp, is an ice cave in Iceland that looks almost otherworldly.
Here we get to experience what it might look like to be underfoot dozens of galloping horses. We see storms, fire, wind, crashing waves. We see movement and action. Mitch Dobrowner created the image above, of a tornado in Regan, North Dakota.
Many of these images are peaceful, tranquil, like the image above of polar bears in Wapusk National Park, Canada, created by Jenny E. Ross. We can find something touching in the image, something human, even if there are no people in the frame.
From a technical perspective, the book is just over 10 inches square and over 1 inch thick. Some of the photographs fully span 2 pages, while the rest span most of the 2 pages but leave enough room for a quote from a photographer and information on the photographs, such as the photographer, location, and a brief description.
National Geographic Stunning Photographs is the type of book I love to own as an endless source of inspiration. Seek out a copy. Perhaps you will also find inspiration in its pages.