Nathan Benn served on the National Geographic photographic staff from 1972 into 1991. Three hundred of his photographs were published in National Geographic Magazine, and hundreds more in numerous books. He is especially grateful to Robert E. Gilka, the legendary Director of Photography at National Geographic.
Benn’s assignments were equally divided between domestic and non-US projects. His photography in the 1970’s is rooted in the traditions of post-WWII photojournalism, especially Life Magazine. He mostly photographed people, never very confident about landscape photography. In this first phase he was a hunter/gatherer of images, rarely posing or manipulating the subjects. His NGM coverage’s included Hasidic Jews, Jewish Diaspora, Vermont, Massachusetts, Finger Lakes, Dead Sea, Prague, medicinal herbs, and Moses and the Exodus.
In 1991 he packed up his Leicas, Nikons, and Hasselblads, put 350,000 transparencies into storage, and jumped ship. Focusing on digital technology and networks, he started Picture Network International (PNI), the first “internet portal” to sell stock photography online. In early 2000 Benn was recruited by Magnum Photos, Inc. to be its Director. During his term Magnum published the award-winning books RFK Funeral Train and New York September 11 by Magnum Photographers.
While revisiting his archive over the past decade, Benn discovered hundreds of unpublished pictures that vividly depict American culture and diversity. Kodachrome Memory: American Pictures 1972-1990, Benn’s monograph published in 2013 by PowerHouse Books, features over 100 photographs organized by geographic regions and affinities. American Photo magazine honored the monograph as one of the best books of the 2013. A Peculiar Paradise: Florida Photographs will be released by PowerHouse Books in September 2018 in conjunction with the exhibition at HistoryMiami Museum, apeculiarparadise.com
Benn’s prints are in the permanent collections of the Rijksmuseum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Harvard Art Museums, Chrysler Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, National Portrait Gallery, Shelburne Museum, and George Eastman Museum.
Benn is a Trustee Emeritus of George Eastman Museum and Vice President of CENTER Santa Fe. He lives in Brooklyn Heights and Santa Fe with wife Rebecca Abrams, a fine arts photographer and son their son Tobias August Benn.