Shooting for National Geographic Traveler – freelance photographer

The entrance at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Bentonville, Ark., showcases a sculpture by Roxy Paine titled Yield. (Beth Hall)

At the end of May, I received an inquiry email from an editor at National Geographic Traveler wondering if I would be interested in shooting an assignment for them.

I wonder if anyone ever says no?

After all, it seems like almost every photographer says they want to shoot for National Geographic when they grow up… and I was honored to get the chance to shoot for one of their publications.

I was given the assignment to photograph Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. I was asked to shoot art, galleries, interiors and exteriors of the museum. The trickiest one was the exterior because the museum doesn’t have a grand entrance like one would expect. Ok, it’s grand with the sculpture Yield, by Roxy Paine, but the building sits at the base of a natural ravine in the heart of the Ozarks. You don’t see the series of pavilions that are built around two creek-fed ponds until you ride the elevator down and walk into the museum. It was designed by world-renound architect Moshe Safdie, and saying that it’s a gem in Northwest Arkansas is an understatement. I know that I am supposed to be unbiased as a photojournalist, but as a resident of Northwest Arkansas, I’m grateful to museum founder, and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., heiress, Alice Walton. I graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in Art, so I’m pretty excited to have a place to take my 7-year-old and hopefully pass along my enthusiasm for art.

My shoot for the magazine was for a new series called, “Best of the World.” I spent a lot of time at the museum waiting for the light to be perfect, and I was lucky enough to have one day with a beautiful blue sky. I’m so thankful for the museum being more than accommodating to my requests to photograph galleries, and photograph the entrance at dawn. I had a lot of fun looking at the architecture and galleries, but I had the best time just being creative. I really enjoyed being me…. over the years I’ve learned that I am most comfortable when I am behind a camera, or when I’m with my son. Through this assignment, I had the best of both worlds when I took my son on the Art Trail and photographed him in Skyspace by artist James Turrell.

I really enjoyed working for National Geographic Traveler, and am looking forward to photographing another “Best of the World” this month.

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P.S. Just a little fact I learned about myself while photographing the exterior… apparently I can run a lot faster than I thought I could. I was able to add a little light (by flash) to the tree and the front of the building during a 30 second exposure. I’m sure I provided some entertainment for the security guard that morning at dawn!
National Geographic Traveler 1


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Ashlee Nobel
October 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm

How exciting! What a great opportunity and your photos turned out amazing. They definitely chose the right photographer for the job. Congrats!

Beth Hall
October 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm
– In reply to: Ashlee Nobel

Thank you Ashlee!