By Punch Pep Correspondent Elizabeth Fischer
Anytime I mention to my friends the idea of being paid to travel â€“ I first hear a sigh just before their eyes cloud over with the same far off dreamy lookâ€¦and then a bold statement of pronouncement.Â A dream â€“ right?Â For some it is a reality.Â They travel, photograph and/or write, sharing their passion/mission/lifeâ€™s dreams & accomplishments while being paid for it.Â Of course, there is a glamorous and not so glamorous side to it â€“ but when it is your passion that doesnâ€™t matter.
While many love to travel, others prefer never to leave favoring their own bed in their own home in their own city.Â I am a happy mix of both.Â On the one hand â€“ I love to travel, meet new people, photograph life as it happens and write â€“ on the other hand – I love my bed, in my personal space with a good book and my four legged friends.Â Yet, if I had a preference I would lean towards the former.
In my journey to accomplish the former, National Geographic has become a favorite venue for inspiration and ingenuity.Â Its magazine has been a staple in my life since childhood.
And this past week, I met another person, through National Geographicâ€™s exhibits and events (National Geographic Live!), who combined what he loved â€“ a passion for photography & travel â€“ with a way to make a living - Thomas Abercrombie.Â He started working for National Geographic in the 1950s.Â He was a senior staff writer and photographer, well known for his work on Middle Eastern Countries.Â He retired in 1994.
â€œA pictureÂ is worth a thousand words!â€Â ClichÃ© â€“ yes â€“ but definitely applies here; and a good photographer pulls you in and places you in the exact moment thatÂ she/he focused the lens and clicked.Â While Thomas Abercrombie’s life’s journey played out, I sat entranced and traveled right alongside him.Â Despite his passing inÂ 2006, I met the manÂ through his photography, wife and daughter.Â I traveled where he traveled.Â I met the people he met.Â I took the photos he took.Â I lived the adventure he lived.Â His photos and stories captured the essence of those he wanted to portray.
I attemptedÂ to mirror his imagery by taking my own photos during the presentation, unfortunately because of low light, the fact I had a pocket camera and was in the back row, not one photo turned out.Â So for this story, I have included his pictures with a link to view more.Â (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2006/08/tom-abercrombie/slideshow-interactive).Â Enjoy as I did.
Thomas Abercrombie traveled to all seven continents and became the first staff photojournalist to travel to the South Pole in the late 1950s.Â Some of his famous photos include Jacques Cousteau and his crew while aboard Cousteau’s vessel the Calypso and the transfer of the first white tiger from India to the US.Â Abercrombie was also the first Western journalist to cover the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in his article Beyond the Sands of Mecca, published 1966. After 1965 Abercrombie frequently covered Saudi Arabia. He was the magazine’s expert on the Middle East.Â He covered the region from Morocco to Afghanistan for more than three decades.Â During his forty years at National Geographic, he published forty stories from all around the world.
Abercrombie was born in Stillwater, Minnesota.Â He landed his job at National Geographic because he pushed the frontiers of photography when he photographed a shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Michigan by designing underwater housing for his camera; and his photograph of a robin straining to extract an earthworm from a dramatically low angle both caught the eye of Melville Bell Grosvenor.
THOMAS ABERCROMBIE IN HIS OWN WORDS:
“Shortly after the National Geographic Society began publishing its journal more than a century ago, founder Alexander Graham Bell was asked what subject matter his new periodical would include. His reply: ‘The world and all that is in it’â€”a tantalizingly broad mandate. Down through the years Lynn and I tried hard to follow it. We worked on every one of the continents and left wakes across the seven seas. The Geographic was witness to a centuryâ€”arguably the most telling in human historyâ€”and we were fortunate to have spent nearly half of it there. Ours is a storyâ€”a picture storyâ€”of two people before whom was spread out the greatest of treasures: our planet Earth. For four decades we traveled aboard that magic carpet with the yellow border.
“Much of that world has changed since our days in the ï¬eldâ€”not always for the better. Many of the smiles we captured are no moreâ€”bleached by tourism, stricken with war, and battered by revolution. Multi-faith Lebanon is torn by sectarian anger; Saudi Arabia is constrained more than ever, as a government of wealthy princes faces off against its more fanatic citizens; Cambodia struggles to rid itself of a decades-long nightmare; Afghanistan bleeds from foreign invasions and its own medieval fundamentalists; Iran remains at loggerheads with the West; and Iraq lies in ashes. So, in a sense, my work records history as much as geography. As has often been said: The past is another country.”
For more National Geographic Live! events please go http://events.nationalgeographic.com/events/locations/center/grosvenor-auditorium/
Attorney Elizabeth Fischer is Punch Pep Correspondent. She is working as an Entrepreneur, Lawyer and Student (environmental studies), covering events for Pamela’s Punch as a generalist correspondent. When she is not working, studying or playing soccer or tennis, she is walking her pups, traveling the globe, running marathons, and enjoying all DC has to offer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.