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Kristin Tutino
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Thursday, March 11 at 10 p.m. – National Geographic Magazine's Top 10 Photos of the Year

(Rochester, NY) National Geographic Magazine's Top 10 Photos of the Year, airing Thursday, March 11 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable1011 and 11), presents a countdown to the magazine’s best image from 2009, chosen by National Geographic Magazine editor in chief Chris Johns from his list of the 10 best photographs published in the magazine last year. The photos cover a broad range of subject matter, from unexplored caves and endangered freshwater dolphins to the global food crisis and vanishing cultures.

The featured photographers are all dedicated and adventurous, revealing the hard work, perseverance and occasional just plain luck behind that one-in-a-million shot that makes it into National Geographic. With exclusive interviews and footage from the field, as well as archival video and photographs, National Geographic Magazine's Top 10 Photos of the Year gives viewers a front-row seat to the selection process.   

Last year, National Geographic’s photographers took more than one million images from which only 1,000 could be published in the magazine. From those, Johns singled out 10 for lasting significance.

The top 10 images were taken by:

  • Kevin Schafer, who struggled with the murky, tannic waters of the Amazon River for his first National Geographic magazine assignment.
  • Fritz Hoffman, who dangled from a cable over the raging Nu River in China as villagers crossed on a zip line to take animals to market on the other side. 
  • Amy Toensing, who, documenting the drought in Southwestern Australia, describes how her picture came together almost by accident as she followed a family through the parched landscape of what had once been a thriving farm. 
  • Stephen Alvarez, who explains how he illuminates pitch-black underground caves to expose them in a way that has truly never been seen before.
  • Martin Schoeller, who typically shoots portraits of celebrities like Britney Spears and Angelina Jolie, photographed the Hadza, a vanishing culture in Tanzania. He shipped a complete studio to the African bush with lights and generators to capture this series of intimate, searing portraits.
  • Randy Olson, who used a computer to control an underwater camera trained on a grizzly bear in Kamchatka, Russia. 
  • John Stanmeyer, who usually covers wars, international conflict and social injustice, traveled to nine countries for a story about the global food crisis.
  • James Nachtwey, who has a similar beat to Stanmeyer’s, spent several months in Indonesia covering the many faces of Islam in a nation that is home to more Muslims than anywhere else in the world. 
  • Len Jenshel and Diane Cook, a husband-and-wife photographer team, battled time and weather to make a photograph of a rooftop garden on Chicago’s City Hall.
  • Michael “Nick” Nichols, National Geographic Magazine’s editor at large, was ranked No. 1 of the top 10 with his photograph of a giant redwood tree. He talks vividly on camera about how it took nearly a year to complete the photograph and how it almost drove him to the brink. Using gyroscopes, dollies and computers, Nichols and his team made a seamless top-to-bottom photograph of a 300-foot redwood tree, the first in history.

Johns, as host of National Geographic Magazine's Top 10 Photos of the Year, reveals why he chose each of the images on his top 10 list, explains why he thinks viewers will connect with these extraordinary pictures and profiles the amazing cast of characters who delivered another year of stunning images.

PBS special programming invites viewers to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front-row seats to world-class drama and performances. Viewer contributions are an important source of funding, making PBS programs possible. PBS and public television stations offer all Americans from every walk of life the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content.

Pictured: A garland of nature crowns Chicago’s City Hall, softening the hard edges of a town famous for steel and stone — and lowering summer temperatures on the roof. Inspired by a worldwide movement, Mayor Richard Daley has made Chicago North America’s leading “green roofs” city. Photo by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel published in National Geographic Magazine , May 2009.

Credit: Diane Cook and Len Jenshel


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