Since its founding in 1888, National Geographic Society has established itself as a pioneer in storytelling. Even before it began publishing photographs on its covers, the magazine provided a platform for sharing immersive, compelling narratives—including stories driven by powerful imagery.
To commemorate the Society’s 130th anniversary in 2018, National Geographic’s director of photography, Sarah Leen, curated 130 of her favorite photographs, from iconic images used on National Geographic magazine covers and striking photos that capture the wonder of nature and history. This gallery is a small selection of those images, while the entire collection was showcased at the National Geographic headquarters building.
"I can't think of anything more fun, but also more difficult, than roaming through our archives to curate a collection of 130 images to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the National Geographic Society,” says Leen. “It's one of the hardest things I have ever done. All I can think about is what I had to leave out!"