When people hear I work at NatGeo, I often get asked some version of: “How can I become a National Geographic photographer?” This is an incredibly galling question for a NatGeo writer. But I get it. Many of these people have romantic visions of exploring the far ends of the planet with a Nikon slung over a shoulder. For the few who seem to want the hard truth, I tell them about the time I was on assignment in Mali with Brent Stirton, and we were taking turns throwing up in an airport bathroom.
We arrived at Bamako’s airport before dawn to catch a flight to Timbuktu, the legendary Saharan outpost, and found the dilapidated terminal