I used to teach photography to university students, and I always told them not to buy photography books, just subscribe to the Geographic. It is a constant living textbook on excellence in photography.
In the 50 years since that photo, the magazine has evolved, including its use of photography. Eventually, there were full color photos spread all across the front pages, and the traditional oak leaves gradually disappeared, as did the word "Magazine."
The Geographic has always pioneered photography, and the ultimate dream job, it seems to me, would be to be a photographer on assignment for that magazine. In our teaching we constantly used Geographic programs and slide shows from their photographers to expose our students (pun intended) to great photography.
That love affair with photography started early with black and white. Then came a monumental step...color photography.
The first color photos in a magazine, ever, came in the summer of 1937 when developing (another pun) technology in both printing and film, made Kodak's Kodachrome film available for the magazine's photographers.
Digital changes the world, for sure, for good and not so good. Photos have always been "tampered" with through history in very country, by every government, perhaps by every photographer. The beauty of The Geographic was that we always thought it was as close to the real thing as possible. Photography means "light writing." But digital changed all the possibilities, and today you can't tell what's "real" and what's been "photoshopped." Such an ugly verb.
It was as though God, Yahweh, Allah, had sinned.
But digital has been good for the Geographic and her readers as well. The Magazine and Society have evolved into a news service, television shows, books, and more. And now you can buy them on the stands in the book store.
Yes, I sinned and quit subscribing. But I've found I can "appropriate" those I want at UCO, because they arrived in the student newspaper (shhh).
And all those old issues I have out in my garage, I thought I'd cash in and sell them on ebay. They don't bring much. I thought about giving them to the Oklahoma City library sale, where they bring about $1 a year at the fairgrounds every year. But I'd have to bundle them and tote them down there. And that wouldn't be much of a tax write off. But I can't throw them away. They're part of me, as long as I don't have to lift them again and move them.
Yes, I still prefer to sit down with one and skim through them, marveling at the photography, especially as the Geographic has increasingly broadened the definitions of Geography into social and cultural issues.
I'm also thankful for the digital age that allows me to "Google" stuff for this scree on the magazine I love, so my facts are right. I still prefer the smell of fresh ink on paper when I open the pages. I'm a journalist, and ink is in my blood and soul.
But I don't have to store them any more, if I can get rid of the ones in the garage. Why? Ten years ago, I bought a collection of them that my Dad would have drooled over. And it was cheap. On CDs, from the beginnings through the 90s.
My collection of the Geographic, plus its maps.
This article is longer than most in the magazine where I applied once long ago, but didn't have enough education. But my "lack of education hasn't hurt me." My education has been and is always enriched by "Old Yeller."