Jim's Stories

Round the World

Photo: Water PlaneLast year I found myself packing for an around-the-world job—five countries, six weeks, take-everything-you-need sort of assignment for National Geographic magazine. As if the visas and inoculations weren't enough, when I finally got everything into my equipment case one tug on the handle and I knew it weighed way too much and would never get on the airplane. Looking inside for stuff to remove, I spied the horde of AA batteries I was taking for my flash units. A quick mental calculation and I had my answer: I switched out all the alkaline batteries for Energizer® Lithium batteries. In addition to lasting much longer (so I could pack fewer batteries), they were also a lot lighter. With the new batteries in place, I could make the weight limit (and save my aching back, too).

Beltane in Edinburgh

Photo: Beltane Fire FestivalIt was pitch black up on Calton Hill in Edinburgh as the annual Beltane Fire Festival got underway at midnight. Besides me, there were 300 performers and 10,000 fans stumbling around and running into each other amid the torch-lit processions. It was as close to photographic chaos as I could imagine. However, I kept my cool because the first thing I did before it got dark was to load every piece of equipment with Energizer® Lithium batteries so I had one less thing to worry about. Changing batteries in those conditions would not have been fun. As it happened, everything worked straight through until the very end, which came at about 3:00 am. While I was dead tired, it was worth it because the pictures were stunning.

Down the Volcano After Dark

Photo: Jim Richardson on a volcanoI've done a lot of stupid things in my time, most of them resulting from staying too long at a great photographic site as the light faded. That was the case when I was shooting Mount St. Helens for a story on the 20th anniversary of the eruption. High up on the mountain the sunset had been wonderful. I'd shot a lot of film, lighting fresh plants growing in the foreground with the volcano lit by the setting sun in the background. Now it was dark and my flashlight was, well, dead with an hour hike back down the mountainside to my vehicle. Looking in my bag, I robbed my flash unit of a couple of Energizer® Lithium batteries (which I had been using all day) and was never so thankful as to see my flashlight spring to life. Back at my car, I vowed to never be so stupid again. (I wish I could say that I've carried through on that.)

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Six Categories

Animals / Wildlife

Our Partners in Life

Photo: Zebras

The animals of planet Earth share our home and bring joy to our lives. Whether we see them in some remote vast wilderness, or snug asleep on our sofa at home, these creatures share our world and enrich us with their beauty, bravery—and sometimes with their antics. Pictures in this category should celebrate our partners in life.


Earth in All Its Glory

Photo: Volcano

From the grandeur of the cosmos down to the world within a drop of water, nature casts a spell on us with stunning landscapes, towering forests, graceful geology, and the never-ending wonder of how our planet is clothed in beauty. Pictures in this category can explore everything from insect life to landscapes and flowers. (But anything focusing on animals should be entered in that category.)

People / Cultures

The Lives We Live

Photo: Men in Traditional Dress

As citizens of the planet, we find a lot of ways of expressing who we are, what we like to eat, what calls for a celebration, what we wear, and how we look at life. We are rich in cultures. Photography can help us share that richness. Pictures in this category should focus on how people live and make their lives meaningful.


The Joy of Encounter

Photo: Pyramids

Travel photographs bring back our experiences as we travel the world (even if that exotic location is in our own backyard.) This category is about the joy and adventure of traveling and exploring. Pictures here should show the experiences of traveling and the unexpected joys of encountering the world and making new friends.


Redecorating the Earth

Photo: Rainbow

Weather constantly remakes our world into something we hadn't quite expected. Children delight to wake up to a world covered in snow, farmers give thanks for long-awaited rain, frost casts its magic on our windowpanes, and sultry afternoons make us drowsy. Pictures here should convey all the ways that weather keeps us guessing and delighted.

Action / Energy

The World in Motion

Photo: Men Rowing

Energy makes action and action makes great pictures. The top of the leap, the speed of flight, the arc of the throw, the splash of the stream, and the blur of laughter—all make for great pictures of life as it happens. Pictures in this category can be crystal clear stop-action or dreamy blurs of motion-in-time. Either way the action and energy are fun to capture.

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