• October 15, 2013

Lynn Johnson on the Heroic Nature of Humanity

“It is an addiction… to see the incredible beauty and desperate circumstances that people are able to survive in.” — Lynn Johnson

Peruvian woman holding a heart-shaped dragon blood tree leaf.
Peruvian woman holding a heart-shaped dragon blood tree leaf.

Lynn Johnson first recognized the extraordinary power of photography huddled in her school library as a child, looking through the Farm Security Administration’s iconic photographs of the Great Depression. She remembers feeling a physical connection to those people’s lives and has strived to create that again and again through her own photography. From the impact of hate crimes in America, to the lives of Long Island fishermen, to a family struggling with AIDS,  she has had the ability to step aside and allow her subjects to tell their story through her. “It’s not really about me, it’s hopefully never about me. It’s hopefully about them and about what they have to teach the world,” said Johnson. Her work has won numerous awards including seven Golden Quills for Photojournalism, four World Press Photography Awards, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for Outstanding Coverage of the Disadvantaged, and Picture of the Year Award from the National Press Photographer Association.—Spencer Bakalar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This video portrait was produced by National Geographic magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. It is part of an ongoing series of conversations with the photographers of the magazine, exploring the power of photography and why this life of imagemaking suits them so well. Learn more about the making of the series and watch the full trailer here.

Follow Lynn Johnson on her website.

Video Production Credits
Photographer: Lynn Johnson
Producers: Pamela Chen, NGM
Chad A. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Producer: Elyse Lipman, NGM
Editors: Spencer Bakalar, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camera and Sound: Spencer Millsap, NGM, Shannon Sanders, NGM

There are 31 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. k.k.B.N.
    November 15, 2014

    Hi madam I’m like you i,e, i’m also want to become a photographer can you teach me.may i know your gmail ID please mam.and photography is my dream please mam, if your unable to believe means i’ll send my photos which i have captured.

  2. Mariange
    November 5, 2014

    I love your essence and your passion for this major mission. As long as there’s work to do I am glad your there to do it.

  3. Kim
    October 30, 2014

    i am a senior in high school and would absolutely love to be a photographer for national geographic! do you have any tips/ steps on how i could get there? thank you!

  4. ouma remmt
    October 30, 2014

    i lyk the art and the power of creativity in which the photos are being taken.

  5. Aadhyaa
    October 26, 2014

    Hey! I live in India and I’m presently in 10th standard. And this is probably the time for me to make decisions for my career. And without a second thought, I really want to join NatGeo as a photographer and traveller. It’s my dream. But, I really have no idea how to go about it. I request you to help me with what courses should I take up in College to reach the ultimate aim. Also on how can I Join NatGeo… I hope you’ll help me. Thanks!

  6. Elizabeth Goff
    October 24, 2014

    I am currently in collage for photography. National Geographic has always inspired me to become a photographer. I am currently writing a paper on who inspires me the most in my field. So today I come across Lynn Johnson. I am so inspired by her. Like her I am a shy person and I use my camera to do the talking for me. I hope one day I can take photos as will as she dose.

  7. Mubashirul Islam
    October 21, 2014

    hallo….I love wildlife Photography and I really want to joined National Geographic.So how can i join???

  8. Soo
    October 13, 2014

    hi I really want to joined National Geographic members…. How can i do ?

    October 3, 2014

    this picture so beautiful…..you just can’t stop looking at it……incredible photography.

  10. sabyasachi basu
    September 25, 2014


    September 25, 2014

    hi!!!!, i love nature and wildlife photography i have so much collection of photos of nature but i don;t know where and how to use them plzzz….. can u suggest me, as your all pics are amazing beautifull and full of emotions.and i want to do job in national geographic magazine plzzz,,,,, tell me thank u

    September 24, 2014

    hi!!!!, i love nature and wildlife photography i have so much collection of photos of nature but i don;t know where and how to use them plzzz….. can u suggest me, as your all pics are amazing beautifull and full of emotions thank u

  13. Praveen P Prabha
    September 22, 2014

    I love wildlife Photography . I like to do ngs Photographic Job……

  14. Jayanta Das
    September 21, 2014

    Good, but how i join with you..

  15. Silva
    September 9, 2014

    Hi there Lynn, I love what you have to say, all spot on, from the heart, your work is so worthwhile, hope you continue for many years to come, women need you to speak visually for them, never retire.
    I also loved the FSA photographers, classic style never fails to get the message out. Love your sincerity and commitment, needs more like you.

  16. Obaidullah
    August 23, 2014

    Honorable Miss Lynn,
    i can not describe how much happy i am just by contacting you..
    I really so much love photography, I don’t even know by myself how much i love photography, since i did not even know what a digital camera is, said it “a Pocket Camera”…, you know what a photographer’s passion is like.. and I’m very much glad for that!
    I really wanna work as a professional for National Geographic, and really need your Guide, and i know what i am saying..

    August 6, 2014


  18. Nancy Truluck
    August 3, 2014

    Love your photos. I am going to Bhutan with Nat Geo in Nov and need a new camera. I am not a techie type so I need something uncomplicated. But I love to record details of people, places. Sony RX 100 has been recommended to me. I am only interested in compact cameras but wonder about limited telephoto . What do you advise?

  19. siddharth
    July 31, 2014

    I love photography I like to do photography job.

  20. Raju Sinha
    July 27, 2014

    The photographers are on right lines,geometricallywith NGO. These images are of high standard. They are achieving their goals. I like you!

    July 27, 2014

    hello dear you are doing a wonderful work .i really enjoy your pictures.please i am also a photographer but i really want to join you so that you can teach me more .i am a Cameroonian base in bamenda north west region of Cameroon.

  22. Sazid Khan
    July 6, 2014

    Really inspiration
    can i work with you i know i know i’m not able to do this but i am trying
    good work man best of luck

  23. Julian John
    May 16, 2014

    Inspirational stuff, the message was short but very strong. beautiful work that takes photography beyond an indulgence into a force for good. Thank you Lynn

  24. bobby singh
    March 14, 2014


  25. knh771
    October 21, 2013

    I’ve really been enjoying all of the photographer videos on PROOF. My only complaint? That they’re so short! The commentary and perspectives have been so interesting… I’m sure they have more than three minutes worth to say.

  26. Colleen Clark
    October 18, 2013

    My sister you are one of the most remarkable people I know! Your images transcend so much more than words ever could. I love you-

  27. Blanca Pinon
    October 16, 2013

    so very true …

  28. ابو مريم العزاوي
    October 15, 2013

    انا شاكر لكم أهتمامكم بي ..وان كل ما تقدمه هو شيء جميل ومميز …وفيه من الاحتراف الشء الكثير …شكرا

  29. Miguel Legazpi
    October 15, 2013


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