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Inspiration

A Look Inside National Geographic’s Photo Archive with Archivist Bill Bonner

By R Dennis Crawford on February 24th 2014

National Geographic’s vintage archivist, Bill Bonner, is responsible for almost eight million graphic images. In order to spend day in and day out managing illustrations, chromes and images, it goes without saying that you must love what you do.

Bill Bonner

Last week, National Geographic published a short 5 minute documentary on their archivist and allowing us a glimpse inside their photo archive. Interestingly, Bill says that most of the images under his care have never been published.

Walking through this vast treasure trove of history, white-gloved and with delicate care, this job is a living time machine. You’ll be hard pressed to find another gathering of incredible images of all styles and purposes in one place anywhere. The images housed may not be iconic images, but as Bill states, “they are pictures of people like us.”

Image 3-650

Bill states he has laid eyes on every image under his care. An incredible accomplishment to
be sure. Add to this fact that Bill’s love for what he does continues to grow! With about 12,000 illustrations, the largest collection of auto-chromes that exist and nearly a half-million black and white prints, photographs from the 1870’s and hand-tinted black and white prints, this collection is beyond amazing!

[REWIND: National Geographic Unpublished Archives are Found]

 

In viewing the images you you won’t find old pictures, but as the Archivist states, you’ll find masterpieces.

Check out the full documentary below:

[via National Geographic]

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R. Dennis Crawford is a Southern California based wedding and portrait photographer. In his free time, he pretends to study Spanish (he still can’t speak the language fluently). When he is not photographing someone, he shares life with his Bride, his muse, Sulma. Check out his work and blog at The Visual Artist Studios

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mac Dickson

    Great article… I went on a school field trip with a personal glimpse at the archive with Bill Bonner. Great experience

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