Working Photographer looks at the turbulent world of editorial photography through the eyes of someone been working at it for forty years -- and hopes to stay active for a lot longer. A quarter of a century at National Geographic has taught me to stay nimble and keep growing. That's what this blog is about.
OK, so the headline is a bit of hyperbole. But that's the way it feels sometimes when I'm faced with with a great opportunity that has seemingly insurmountable technical problems.
That's just the way I felt when I got the chance to photograph farmer turned archeologist Ronald Simison in the neolithic tomb he discovered on his farm in Orkney, off the north coast of Scotland. It's a great story. One day Mr. Simison sat down on a low ledge out in his pasture on his farm on South Ronaldsay and absentmindedly started poking around with his spade. Soon enough he discovered a hole in the ledge, which led to the realization that it was, in fact, the wall of a tomb he was sitting on and he had discovered the entrance. What's more, with a torch (that's a flashlight to us on this side of the pond) he could see bones scattered about and a skull or two!
Well, honest and diligent Scot that he is, Mr. Simison reported his find to the antiquities authorities, confident that they would come right out and excavate his find promptly. They didn't. Busy with other excavations, it turned out. Busy for a number of years, actually. Finally, Mr. Simison grew weary of waiting and set out to train himself in the ways of scientific excavation. And with a bit of luck a certain arcane twist of the laws of antiquities fell his way and farmer Simison was legally able to excavate the site himself. In the end it turned out to be quite important and is known as the Tomb of the Eagles, owing to eagle talons found with certain of the more prestigious burials.