Longtime National Geographic photojournalist John Stanmeyer shares the poignant story behind his World Press Photo of the Year winning image, "Signal." John touches on the value of "getting lost" as a part of his process, the importance of communication, and the distances people will travel in pursuit of hope and opportunity.
John Stanmeyer is a photojournalist dedicated to social and political issues that define our times. Over the last decade, John has worked nearly exclusively with National Geographic magazine, producing over 12 stories for the magazine and resulting in 10 covers. Between 1998 and 2008, John was a contract photographer for Time magazine, during which time he photographed the war in Afghanistan, the fight for independence in East Timor, the fall of Suharto in Indonesia, and other significant world news events. His years with Time resulted in 18 covers of the magazine.
In 2001, he cofound the VII Photo agency with six of the world’s leading photojournalists. By 2005, VII was listed in third position in American Photo’s “100 Most Important People in Photography.” VII now represents 20 of the world’s preeminent photojournalists whose careers span 35 years of world history. January 2015, Stanmeyer became a VII Distinguished Member. The same month, John brought his ten years of stories with National Geographic to Nat Geo Creative while his historic archive of 20+ years of visual history remains at VII.
He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the prestigious Robert Capa award (Overseas Press Club), Magazine Photographer of the Year (POYi), and numerous World Press, Picture of the Year and NPPA awards. In 2008, his National Geographic cover story on global malaria received the National Magazine Award. In 2012 was nominated for an Emmy with the VII documentary film series, Starved for Attention and in 2014 was the recipient of the World Press Photo award for his photograph from Djibouti titled, Signal.
John has published a number of books including Island of the Spirits, a journalistic/anthropologic look at Balinese culture documented during the five years he lived on the island. His latest book, a VII Photo Agency collaboration titled Questions Without Answers (Phaidon), was released in 2012, chronically the last 30 years of social conflict and change around the world.
In 2013, John opened Stanmeyer Gallery & Shaker Dam Coffeehouse in West Stockbridge, Mass, combining photography and education around his passion for brilliant coffee, wrapping the two around ethically procured, human rights-based direct trade coffee with the socials issues represented in his photographs.
Stanmeyer lives on a farm with two dogs and many fireflies over summer in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.