The Photo Editor and Photographer Bond: A Peek Behind the Curtain

17 Jan 2017 2016 PHOTOSHELTER

Ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at how photographers and their editors work together and bring an idea to life?

The Photo Editor and Photographer Bond: A Peek Behind the Curtain

Featuring: Sarah Leen (Moderator), David Guttenfelder, Erika Larsen

Presented by

Photoshelter’s Luminance


Friday, September 23 | 5:00PM – 5:45PM
Location: Photoville Pavilion (60 Water Street Storefront)


Ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at how photographers and their editors work together and bring an idea to life? In this exclusive panel, Sarah Leen, Senior Photo Editor at National Geographic magazine, sits down with award-winning photographers Erika Larsen and David Guttenfelder. They’ll discuss how Sarah’s relationship with Erika and David began, the way their collaborative processes evolved, and the challenges they faced in telling their stories. You’ll walk away with an understanding of what to do (and what not to do) to get noticed by photo editors, along with strategies to build ongoing relationships.


Sarah Leen_033xSarah Leen is the Director of Photography for the National Geographic magazine. For nearly 20 years prior, she worked as a freelance photographer, publishing 16 stories in the magazine. She joined the magazine as staff in 2004.

Leen graduated with a BA in Fine Arts in 1974 from the University of Missouri, Columbia and continued with graduate studies at the Missouri School of Journalism. Leen was the College Photographer of the Year in 1979 and worked as a staff photographer for the Topeka Capital Journal and the Philadelphia Inquirer until 1988.

Leen has won numerous awards for her photography in the Pictures of the Year (POYi) and World Press Photo competitions. In 2007 and 2008, she won first place Magazine Picture Editing Portfolio from POYi and second place in 2011. She has judged numerous contests including POYi, the W. Eugene Smith Grants, the Getty Images Editorial Grants, and the World Press Joop Swarts Masterclass.

Leen was the curator of National Geographic magazine’s Water is Life exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles in 2010, the Beyond the Photograph exhibit at National Geographic Society headquarters in 2011, and the Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 years exhibit at the Annenberg Space in 2013.

erika_larsenErika Larsen’s work uses photography, video and writing to learn intimately about cultures that maintain strong connections with nature. She has been working as a magazine photographer since 2000, specializing in human interest stories and sensitive cultural issues.

Her work has been included in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the National Geographic Society, The Swedish Museum of Ethnography, and Ajtte Sámi Museum.

Larsen is a recipient of a World Press Photo award as well as several grants and fellowships, including a Fulbright Fellowship, New Jersey State Arts Council Fellowship, Women in Photography Individual Project Grant, and a Lois Roth Endowment.

David GuttenfelderDavid Guttenfelder is a National Geographic Photography Fellow focusing on geopolitical conflict and conservation. He has covered a wide range of stories for National Geographic, from Songbird Slaughter, Afghanistan’s Opium Wars, and Japan’s Nuclear Refugees, to the damming of the Mekong River, and Yellowstone National Park.

Guttenfelder spent 20 years as a photojournalist based in Nairobi, Abidjan, New Delhi, and Tokyo, covering news in nearly 100 countries around the world. In 2011, he helped the Associated Press open a bureau in North Korea, the first Western news agency to have an office in the otherwise isolated country. Guttenfelder has made more than 40 trips to North Korea.

Guttenfelder is an eight-time winner of the World Press Photo Award and a seven-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is the 2013 ICP Infinity Prize winner for photojournalism and a winner of the Overseas Press Club of America’s John Faber, Olivier Rebbot, and Feature Photography awards. Pictures of the Year International and the NPPA have named him Photojournalist of the Year. He was short-listed for the National Magazine Award for Public Interest in 2014.

Guttenfelder is an influencer and industry leader in smartphone photography and social media. He was named 2014 Instagram Photographer of the Year by TIME magazine, received the Shorty Award for online photography, and the Online Journalism Award. His North Korea mobile phone photography was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago and at the Cortona Photo Festival in Tuscany. He was part of the Instagramming the News panel lecture at the SXSW digital conference in 2014. He taught the inaugural National Geographic Explorer’s Smartphone Photography workshop in San Francisco in 2015. He is the founder of the Instagram collectives @everydayUSA and @everydayDPRK. Through his personal Instagram account, he engages with more than 935,000 followers.

He has exhibited his photography at Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan, France; The Annenberg Space For Photography in Los Angeles; the Council on Foreign Relations in New York; the El Valor del Momento exhibit in Havana, Cuba; and Spain’s Encuentro Internacional de Fotoperiodismo, where he won the Ciudad de Gijon international photojournalism prize. His work from the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan was part of the War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Guttenfelder is a frequent event speaker, having appeared in the NatGeoLive! lecture series, the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, Colorado; and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, among others.

As an educator and workshop leader, Guttenfelder has taught National Geographic Explorer’s photography workshops and led teams at the Eddie Adams Workshop and the Visions Workshop Photo Camp at Montana’s Crow Reservation. He was also a trustee and teacher for the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation’s annual workshops in Vietnam. He has been a professional-in-residence and lecturer at many U.S. universities. He has served as a jury member for World Press Photo, the Getty Grant, and Pictures of the Year International.

Born in Iowa, he graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Cultural Anthropology, African Studies and Journalism.

Full day passes ($20) are available for purchase here.