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This profile was last updated on 4/3/14  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.

Photographer

Phone: (212) ***-****  HQ Phone
National Geographic
711 Fifth Ave. 17Th Fl.
New York, New York 10022
United States

Company Description: The National Geographic Society is one of the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to "increase and diffuse...   more
Background

Employment History

  • Photojournalist
    National Geographic
  • Photographer
    Jeff Wignall Adorama Academy
  • Meet National Geographic Photographer
    Jeff Wignall Adorama Academy
  • Photographer
    Self Employed (Self-employed)
  • and Span>
    Self Employed (Self-employed)

Education

  • master's degree , photojournalism
    University of Missouri
  • bachelor's degree , business
    University of Southern California
116 Total References
Web References
BRMA - The Moderator - Summer 2001
www.b-reactor.org, 3 April 2014 [cached]
5/18 Tour at B Reactor and a visit by Peter Essick, a photographer for National Geographic.
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After the tour, Dee, Roger, and Paul take turns sitting at the main control panel so Peter can shoot their portrait.
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It will be interesting to see how those photos are used, because Peter is out here for an article about nuclear waste, to be published some time next year.
Peter ...
arstechnica.com, 24 Dec 2013 [cached]
Peter Essick
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Matter-of-fact story telling makes Peter Essick's book, Our Beautiful, Fragile World, an emotional snapshot of environmental tragedies in progress. Essick is a photojournalist for National Geographic who has spent the last 25 years documenting man's devastating impact on the environment. In this respect, Essick has the advantage of Waters in that the visual imagery linked to each story leaves nothing to chance.
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Essick has put about a hundred of his most evocative images in a coffee table book. The images range over the world in location. We go from the wilds of Alaska, the Antarctic, and Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile, to the everyday in a Home Depot parking lot in Baltimore and a picnic on the banks of the Patuxent River.
The storytelling complements the imagery very well. Indeed, Essick's matter-of-fact voice lets the reader draw their emotional response from the photos and their relationship to the story.
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Even amidst the evidence of this devastation, Essick remains sympathetic to the people caught in the story; that hard rock mining is done by people who are to be treated with dignity. This aspect of Essick's approach gives his book a humanity that a simple environmental-warrior story would lack.
In only one place does Essick's matter-of-fact approach breakdown. The story of climate change is deeply troubling, and he lets his pessimism and anger leak through. Although these feelings are not discussed directly, Essick-and, indeed many of us-are deeply frustrated by the lack of political will. Although the climate vignettes are too short to capture the issues, the failure of our society to act are laid out in plain sight.
The images are, without exception, stunning, and Essick has done about as well as is possible given the format. And, therein lies my only real complaint about the book.
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Our Beautiful, Fragile World, Peter Essick, ISBN: 978-1-937538-34-7.
Interview with Peter Essick, National Geographic Photographer
www.jeffwignall.com, 6 Sept 2012 [cached]
Peter Essick Profile
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Meet Photographer Peter Essick
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Another very interesting photographer that I was asked by Outdoor Photographer to interview is National Geographic shooter Peter Essick. Peter is what can only be called a "photographer's photographer. He has circled the globe countless times on assignment and is one of the few photographers that has been given the honor of photographing an entire issue of the magazine from cover to cover. As you'll see in the story that follows, there is very little that Peter won't do to get a photograph--and sometimes what he has to go through for that single photograph seems more like an endurance test than the mere persuit of a photograph!
I had a great time interviewing Peter and he was very forthcoming about all that is involved in his "normal" life as a National Geo photographer. I think you'll find Peter to be a fascinating person and his story should dispell any daydreams most of us have about running away with a camera and joining the Geographic!
You can read Peter's own notes on his gobal warming assignment on the National Geographic site. Peter also sells prints of his work on the web at Ray of Light Photographs.
Here's my story about Peter--enjoy!
Peter Essick
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Veteran Geographic shooter Peter Essick is no exception to the tradition; in fact, he is probably the very definition of that type of photojournalistic obsession. In shooting more than 20 feature stories for the magazine, Essick has had to endure some epic journeys to get the shot and bring it back home.
Take, for example, his picture of a scientist counting a roost of Adelies penguins on Torgersen Island in Antarctica. To get the shot Essick hired a private 50-foot yacht to sail him (sail-as in hoist that mainsail) through the notoriously turbulent Drake Passage from Ushuaia, Argentina on the southernmost tip of South America to Palmer Station in Antarctica. The trip took seven days (in each direction) and much of that time was spent in 20-foot seas and 70 mph winds and, says Essick, it was even less pleasant than it sounds: "You can't really go up on deck when it's like that so you spend your time down in the hold. There were five of us onboard and it was kind of stuffy in there; we had to really work to not get seasick."
Essick didn't know it at the time, but seasickness was among the least of his worries. "It wasn't until after the trip that the skipper, a Swiss guy named Eric Barde, confessed that during the height of the storm he felt he'd reached the limits of the boat's capabilities," says Essick. "He had to take down all the sails and we were really at the mercy of the seas."
Once in Antarctica Essick had less than a week to shoot his photos and get back on the boat for the return sail. "I had never been there before, it's a difficult place to go for one shot. says Essick who has an almost poetic gift for understatement. "You can't fly there because there is no air strip. Most of the researchers who man the research station go in by icebreaker in November and stay through March-a time frame that Essick's fast-lane shooting itinerary didn't allow him to follow.
Ironically, says Essick, at one time there was enough sea ice in the region to prevent getting into Palmer Station without an icebreaker leading the way-even during the brief Antarctic summer--but because of global warming, the sea ice no longer extends to that area. "That's one of those global warming things," he says. "Years ago you couldn't even sail there."
The Antarctica shot was just one of dozens he shot for three separate essays that ran in the September 2004 special issue of National Geographic devoted to global warming ("Global Warning: Bulletins from a Warmer World"). Each of the three essays was devoted to one aspect of global warming: "Geosigns" looked at physical changes like rising seas and melting glaciers, "EcoSigns" dealt with the effects on flora an fauna (like the penguins) and "TimeSigns" explored the scientific research into climate change. In total his essays ran more than 60 pages in the magazine-a hefty spread even by Geographic standards.
The story was the brainchild of Geographic environmental editor Dennis Dimick, who Essick says directed the entire project.
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"A lot of people don't even believe in global warming," says Essick. "So it was important up front to say that we're assuming that there is climate change and that we're going to go by scientific voices, rather than follow the pseudo-science people that are trying to debunk it."
When it came to choosing specific subjects and locations, Essick got a basic outline of the concept but did much of the research and found many of his subjects himself. A lot of leads were found by reading scientific journals-a bit of intellectual curiosity the Atlanta-based shooter says he picked up at a young age from his father, a high school science teacher. "My criteria was that I would try and find scientists that had published a peer-review paper that detailed their research on a specific topic," he says. "Then I would contact them and see if they were doing any field work and if there was anything that I could photograph."
All told he spent more than six months on the road during a nine-month period shooting an average of eight weeks on each of the three essays. "It was like doing three stories at once," he says, "but I shot them at the same time and was doing pictures for each of the three on the same trips.
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In addition Essick, who travels without an assistant, says he carries a lot of backup gear-chargers, batteries, screwdrivers: "You have to fix your own stuff when you're working like this."
Each of his hard shell Pelican bags, he says, average about 70 pounds. "I carry as much as I can put on one of those smart carts in the airport and still push it myself," he says. "It would be nice to be specialized and just do one thing, you could go a lot lighter, but with a story like this you have to go heavier on gear."
Essick says he typically shot about 400 rolls of film on each of the three essays-which worked out to about 10 rolls of slide film a day. For the round-the-world portion of the assignment he found he could carry about 300 rolls of film in one rolling carry-on suitcase. The film itself was packed in Op/Tech lead bags-which he says tricks security personnel into hand inspecting. "I used to always ask for a hand check but that got to be very difficult, especially after 9-11" he says. "Now they say they can't see anything and so they take it out and hand inspect it anyway."
And although he says some photographers at the Geographic are starting to convert to digital, he still works exclusively with film on assignment. One of the downsides of shooting film, he says, is that often he doesn't see processed film for weeks, even months, after he's shot it. "On this assignment I worked for several months without seeing a single shot," he says. "I did about four fifths of the story without ever seeing a picture. That is hard to do. You really have to rely on your past experience and your knowledge not only so you know that your camera is working, but you have to know that you've got the shots."
The most fascinating aspect of the long assignment, says Essick, was getting to work with the many scientists who are studying global warming around the world. Particularly interesting were the paleoclimatologists who study things like ice cores and stalagmites to see what the climate was like in the distant past and what it might be like in the not-too-distant future. "For me these people are almost like detectives, they look deep into the past and they can see how fast the changes have happened-which is pretty fast," says Essick.
Photograph by Peter ...
proof.nationalgeographic.com, 11 Dec 2013 [cached]
Photograph by Peter Essick
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Peter Essick's Journey into Environmental Photojournalism
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Among the most memorable environmental photojournalism projects I've been involved with have been collaborations with photographer Peter Essick. We first teamed up nearly 20 years ago on a project about non-point source water pollution-the kind that flows into rivers, bays, and the sea from fertilized lawns, farms, paved highways, and parking lots. This diffuse runoff pollution contributes to "hypoxic" or dead zones like those we find in the Chesapeake Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico near the Mississippi River delta.
Since that first story, Peter and I have traveled the road of environmental photojournalism together, teaming on 14 stories with subjects as diverse as nuclear waste, paleoclimatology, America's wilderness, and the chemical pollution cocktail we each carry inside us.
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In 2009 Peter created a powerful photo essay on the impact of tar (or oil) sands mining in Alberta, and he recently photographed a beautiful black and white essay on the Ansel Adams Wilderness of California. He is incredibly versatile.
Peter has just released a new book called "Our Beautiful, Fragile World"-a retrospective of his 25 years as a photographer who's been deeply engrossed in documenting the resilience of the natural world at the nexus of increasing encroachment and impact from expanding human activity.
Finding a lead picture for a story about global climate change is a challenge. In the end it comes down to the fact we are burning carbon (in this case coal) to power our modern world. This coal-fired power plant seems to be hovering over the residents of Conesville, Ohio. (Smokestack emissions from the power plant are at left, steam clouds from cooling towers are at right.) A coal-fired power plant seems to hover over the residents of Conesville, Ohio. (Smokestack emissions from the power plant are at left, steam clouds from cooling towers are at right.) Launch Gallery
I recently interviewed Peter about his origins and trajectory as an environmental photographer:
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PETER ESSICK: My father was a science teacher and a lover of the outdoors. We went on a lot of trips, hiking, skiing, river rafting when I was growing up and he always took pictures with his trusty Nikon F to show his classes.
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PETER: Ansel Adams was my biggest inspiration starting out.
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PETER: When I was at the University of Missouri I was selected as a summer intern based on a portfolio I had submitted.
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PETER: The assignment I did for a National Geographic special issue on water in 1993 was my first exposure to photographing an important environmental issue.
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PETER: My favorite place of any that I have visited is Patagonia in the southern part of Argentina and Chile.
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"My best motivation to do environmental stories is when I see children like the boy looking out the window in Butte and wonder about the world we are leaving for them."-Peter Essick
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PETER: In general, environmental stories are more difficult than landscape stories because of problems getting access to sites and finding people who will agree to be photographed.
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PETER: I feel I have a unique story to tell with this book.
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This photograph is the result of having an idea and then executing it despite the obstacles."-Peter Essick
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PETER: Many people contact me saying they are interested in becoming a National Geographic photographer and I have taught many workshops on nature photography.
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Or put another way, what's next for Peter?
PETER: This book and one coming out in the spring on the Ansel Adams Wilderness have opened up a lot of opportunities for me.
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Peter Essick's new book, "Our Beautiful, Fragile World" is published by Rocky Nook Books.
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Thank you Peter and Dennis.
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Peter and Dennis are inspirations to us all.
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Peter, I am inspired by your work.
Photograph by Peter Essick, ...
news.nationalgeographic.com, 27 Nov 2013 [cached]
Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic
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Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic
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