By Whitney Johnson, Director of Visual and Immersive Experiences
Exiles and refugees have a reason not to know. But many of us, even those of us who have stayed in the same place, experience a feeling of loss caused by a changed environment.
Photographer Pete Muller has spent much of the past year trying to document that feeling around the world, as a fellow for National Geographic Society. Before taking on this assignment, Muller, who has moved around a lot in his life, examined one place where he found solace—a fish-laden river in Kenya.
“I felt connected,” he writes in the following essay, “as I did on the summer days of my childhood, when sand sharks and pufferfish made my heart beat with curiosity and wonder.”
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Peace on a lush highland river
Fly-fishing, with its knot-tying, wading, and rhythmic casting, seemed an antidote to the pain of photographing suffering, as I’d done so often in recent years. I hadn’t cast a fishing line since the age of 10 or so, when I used bait and lures to fish the Atlantic waters that surrounded the places I lived as a child, first along the coast of New Jersey and later in Massachusetts. My mother’s boyfriend at the time taught me the basics. He was a large, avuncular man who’d been an interrogator in the U.S. Army Special Forces, an experience that left him with his own scars. As he affixed lures to his line, he explained that he could handle little more than fishing and taking photographs, the latter his chosen profession after leaving the military. At dusk along the jetties, his hand resting comfortably on the rod, he seemed at ease.
Between assignments I began to drive from the chaos of Nairobi, where I lived, to the fertile, undulating hills that surround central Kenya’s Ragati and Mathioya waterways. The slow-flowing Ragati River drifts through protected indigenous forest, where a network of paths, used by humans, leopards, elephants, and buffalo, cuts through lush vegetation. The Mathioya rushes through the heartland of Kenyan tea production, near the slopes of the Aberdare Mountains and the receding glacial peaks of Mount Kenya. Both rivers are home to populations of furtive brown and rainbow trout maintained through the stocking programs of the few nearby fishing clubs and lodges. .... Read more from Pete Muller.
Your Instagram photo of the day
Holding back the sea. Construction workers make polders to protect the shore of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Each monsoon season, Bangladesh faces heavy flooding, more than any other country in the world. A study released this week estimated that 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by midcentury.
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News in a minute
One photographer, 50 million people: Can photographer Tobin Jones represent the demographics of one fast-growing nation, with a median age of 20, in 100 portraits? He is trying, the BBC reports.
Iconic places to photograph: An interactive feature shows not just a curated list of the world’s most photogenic places—but offers tips on how to capture them best. Try to shoot a long exposure at Stonehenge, says veteran photographer Jim Richardson, or don’t be afraid to break the rule of thirds at the Taj Mahal. If one interactive isn’t enough, check out this story of today’s Day of the Dead.
I Will Greet the Sun Again: Focusing on exile, identity, and displacement, Shirin Neshat’s largest-ever exhibition, now at The Broad in Los Angeles, explores those topics with grace and a creativity of expression. Among Greet the Sun’s 230 photographs over three decades: previously unseen portraits Neshat made in Iran.
The power of the passport: That’s the theme of the 10th annual Lagos Photo Festival, running until November 15. In a statement, the curators say they aim to bring alive “an alternative global environment in which artists of different nationalities are invited to explore options of creating a fluid and permeable world, where nationality, gender, and historical imbalances are secondary."
Photo tip of the week
Overheard at National Geographic
Don't wake the bear! In a remote Utah park, photographer Corey Arnold and wildlife researchers had to change a battery. Okay, it was a battery on the collar of a male black bear. But the bear would be hibernating in his narrow, curvy cave, and they could tranquilize him to do it. Except that the bear was awake. Arnold got one photograph off before they escaped the cave, but the groggy bear busted through their obstacles and slid down a slope before snoozing. Who do you think had to lift that bear back into his den? Catch more Nat Geo stories on Overheard, our podcast. Subscribe here.
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One last glimpse
Time for exercise. Novice nuns play volleyball at the monastery in Santa Catalina Monastery, in the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa. Melissa Farlow’s 1998 image was among those selected for the new book Women: The National Geographic Image Collection. It is in a chapter entitled “Joy.”