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This profile was last updated on 11/23/15  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.


Phone: (202) ***-****  HQ Phone
Local Address:  District of Columbia , United States
National Geographic
1145 17Th Street N.W.
Washington , District of Columbia 20036
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

Employment History

  • Photographer
    Aurora Photos
  • Photographer
    Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Meet National Geographic Photographer
    Jeff Wignall Adorama Academy
  • Photographer
    Jeff Wignall Adorama Academy
  • Photographer
    Self Employed (Self-employed)
  • and Span>
    Self Employed (Self-employed)


  • master's degree , photojournalism
    University of Missouri
  • bachelor's degree , business
    University of Southern California
180 Total References
Web References
Photograph by Peter Essick, ..., 23 Nov 2015 [cached]
Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic
Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic Continue Reading Show Caption Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
Human waste is mixed with compost for fertilizer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 2011.
Photograph by Peter Essick, National Geographic
Interview with Environmental ..., 22 Nov 2015 [cached]
Interview with Environmental Photographer: Peter Essick
Interview with Environmental Photographer: Peter Essick
A conversation with National Geographic photographer, Peter Essick, author of Our Beautiful, Fragile World.
Peter Essick on Western ..., 19 Sept 2014 [cached]
Peter Essick on Western Drought for National Geographic
The October 2014 issue of National Geographic features a story about western drought with photography by Aurora photographer Peter Essick.
To see more work by Peter Essick, visit the Aurora Photos site here.
Lumiere Fine Art Photography Gallery » News Archive, 1 June 2011 [cached]
Peter Essick - Ansel Adams Wilderness Book: Featured in WABE Interview
Essick's recently published book The Ansel Adams Wilderness - photographs by Peter Essick features work taken while on assignment for National Geographic Magazine. In this book, his subject is the remote California Sierra Nevada wilderness area named for the world famous photographer, and an early influence in Essick's life. As a teenager Peter wrote Adams, who replied with an invitation to visit his studio in Carmel, this meeting set Essick on his path to pursue photography as a career.
Peter Essick - New Book: Featured in WABE Interview
Peter Essick's recently published book Our Beautiful Fragile World features a career-spanning look at Essick's work taken while on assignment for National Geographic magazine. In this book, he showcases a diverse series of photographs from some of the most beautiful natural areas in the world and documents major contemporary environmental issues. To purchase follow this link to Amazon.
Also, here is a very thoughtful review of the book entitled Human Footprints to a Harrowing Future recently published on the Huffington Post by author Evaggelos Vallianatos.
In conjunction with the publication Essick was also featured on WABE (Atlanta Public Radio) in a 10 minute interview by Steve Goss that aired January 16th.
Co-leading the workshop with Peter is renowned photographer Silvia Plachy.
© Peter Essick
Peter Essick Featured In The AJC
Peter Essick Featured In The AJC
Photographer Peter Essick was featured in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, (October 27, 2011).
Select Here to view Peter Essick's artist page and explore many other resources on our site.
Interview with Peter Essick, National Geographic Photographer, 6 Sept 2012 [cached]
Peter Essick Profile
Meet Photographer Peter Essick
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
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.
"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.
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.
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