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The Photographic Chain: Five minutes with Bob Krist

My dreams is… that the market shakes itself out, so talented young visual story tellers can make a living. We have seen explosion in the tech field which allows the creation of video and audio. Photographers have all the the tools that allow them to share wonderful stories. There are so many talented visual people, but sadly we are not seeing a market place that allows to this stuff to be paid in a decent way. In my stage of development, it is not so important, because I am all set. But I really feel for young photographers who see no clear path to earn a living. Long term sustainability of a photography career is much harder now.

Image © Bob Krist


The biggest lesson in my career… is that hard work is more important than talent. When you hear about great photographers, everyone talks about their eye, their sensitivity… But when you get to know them, they all have a ferocious work ethic. That was eye opening. We always think about talent, but not about the ability to generate ideas which is even more important than the eye. Former National Geographic Photography Director Bob Gilka used to say: I am up to my ears in talent, but only ankle deep in ideas. I have many guys who can shoot, but not too many that can propose a story and put together the whole thing.

The biggest lesson in my life… is that life can go in a second. The loss of my youngest son is the biggest and hardest lesson in my life. It made me realize that fame and fortune and all that, is not as important as safety of those who you love.

The moment I will never forget… was an assignment that hardly yielded any pics. I was shooting a story in Trinidad for Islands Magazine. One night there was a knock on my door and I was taken to ¨Shango¨ ceremony. I witnessed an all night ceremony. People in trances, people speaking in voices. The was so very low light and I couldn’t use flash. I saw the most amazing things I have ever seen. I was able to shoot six photographs, but non were ever published.

Photography is… changing. I think its great that we can share stories in so many ways and are no longer dependent on magazines and big publishers. I like all the story-telling possibilities of video these day. For an old still shooter, it is scary on one hand, and fascinating on the other, to be able to craft the whole story from start to finish. You are now the writer, the editor, the image maker and the publisher too…it’s a brave new world!

The Time Machine:



Bob Krist (1979)
Image was taken in 1979, when Bob was working on his first national magazine assignment, shooting a story about shad fisherman on the Hudson River, right off Manhattan.















So who is … Bob?
More about Bob: www.bobkrist.com


  1. Anonymous
    September 25, 2013, 1:33 pm

    – Perfecto para la prueba

  2. Marion Woodfield
    February 17, 2013, 7:38 pm

    didn’t know you know Bob Krist. We had the pleasure of traveling around the Baltic with him several years ago. Neat and talented guy (like you).

  3. shirley
    China hangzhou
    January 19, 2013, 8:48 am

    l like traveling very much.therefore,there is no doubt that bob’s work made me admire him.however,l think l know the life more than before through his story

  4. Radha Stern
    United States
    January 18, 2013, 3:17 pm

    Kike…how nice you can speak with photographers you admire and write about them. Anyone who has had the pleasure of being on a trip with you and your camera knows what a moment can mean and how wonderfully it can be captured.
    Luck and light!
    Best everything from California!

  5. Indrani
    Yale University
    January 18, 2013, 12:07 pm

    Wonderful to read this article on Bob Krist, particularly in the light of his interviewer Kike Calvo, who is for me another inspiring figure of photography. I met Kike some months ago at Yale University where I have had the chance to follow his many events and activities with excitement. Not only do I always find his photography both beautiful and powerful, but it especially denotes his unique approach to human connection through the camera’s lens. Kike has a golden heart with a true passion and attention for people. Despite a busy schedule he is always willing to give his time and advice to students interested in photo. In his stories Kike speaks of the relationships he has forged in his many travels. This respect for the other, and this eagerness to embrace humanity’s diversity is a recognisable force in Kike Calvo’s work. Such beauty crafted out of love for the subject is I think most important for a photographer and I am happy to hear such an authentic voice in NG. I wish him all the best!

  6. Joel Hdez Marín
    Habana, Cuba
    January 18, 2013, 10:42 am

    Una gran historia en un buen resumen. Interesante el punto de vista de este experimentado fotógrafo sobre la situación de los que amamos este arte y las condiciones que nos impone la tecnología y el mercado. Desafortunadamente, mientras este último siga marcando el ritmo no lograremos lograr el respeto que necesitamos por parte de quienes utilizan nuestro trabajo. Por eso siempre estamos trabajando, trabajando y trabajando y nos olvidamos que tenemos un mundo a nuestro alrededor y hay otras cosas más allá.

  7. Kamya
    January 17, 2013, 3:51 pm

    I met Kike Calvo at a Master’s Tea at Yale University. He spoke about his personal journey into the world of photography and enlightened us with the lessons he has learned along the way. Many of his points about taking advantage of all that you have access to and every moment that you’re in resonate beautifully in this great post about Bob Krist’s views.

  8. Danielle O'Daly
    January 17, 2013, 2:27 pm

    A lovely and positive outlook on life. Very true that hard work is a key factor for success. For one that is determined to land an opportunity in this field, they must never give up. This article shares a wonderful, heart felt story encouraging this notion. The beautiful thing about life is that it has no boundaries, and if desired enough, has the ability to take us anywhere to witness fantastic moments, that a devoted, passionate photographer is able to capture, and share with the rest of the world. Something that these two men, Kike and Bob acquire, devotion and passion not only for photography, but also to helping others anyway they can. Simply Amazing.

  9. Raquel Pinto
    January 17, 2013, 9:13 am

    Wise words, the experience of years and years of hard work, for all young storytellers. Kike Calvo : Thanks for this post, always moving us to keep dreaming!

  10. Maria Guaqueta
    January 17, 2013, 2:21 am

    It’s wonderful when you can find someone that takes you to a world where dreams really can come true, and someone that also inspire you to go after them. That is what KIKE CALVO makes when you have the opportunity of meeting him, actually It’s great when two photographers like KIKE and Bob get together to share with the world their feeling and thoughts about photography, Wonderful post and I love to read the Photographic chain, please keep writing it Kike, and thanks National geographic for having this spaces in your blog.

  11. Daniel Torres
    January 16, 2013, 10:16 pm

    i always admire bob’s work but now i know something from him and i admire the man behind the cam.
    great interview

  12. Maria Jose Sucre
    January 16, 2013, 8:07 pm

    Great story! and its true… we are living in a brave new world!