Updated: 26 Jun 2021
“From my early years, then though my teens and into adulthood I have always had a National Geographic magazine close to hand”
As a young child, I recall my late father would religiously walk to the local newsagent and pick up his copy of the National Geographic. Having travelled much of the world in the merchant navy, he was fascinated by all the stories from around the globe and could even relate to many of the destinations. He would sit and tell me anecdotes from his travels.
Occasionally when my father was busy with work, I would walk to the same newsagents and pick up his copy of the magazine. I got used to reading the magazine as I walked home, similarly to the young people today with their mobile phones.
Once my father had finished reading the magazine, I would “borrow” the National Geographic and read it from the front page to the back page.
I was fascinated with the detailed maps, fascinating facts and figures, intriguing stories and the beautiful photographs from all around the world adorning each page. It had a real impact on me.
Each time I read an issue, I became more inspired by the amazing people featured in the publication.
As a result, I learnt all about countries, capital cities and the national flags attributed to each country. On my bedroom wall as a youngster rather than having a favourite sports team or pop star, I had a detailed map of the world!
Throughout my school years, I excelled in one particular subject – Geography. I did rather well in all other subjects and got good grades, but it was always Geography that fascinated me most.
Upon leaving school, I had become an “A” star student whilst passing all of my Geography examinations with high grades. Much of this success had been inspired by the National Geographic.
Several years later after my father passed away, and together with my brothers we conducted a house clearance. On the mezzanine floor of his garage, we found literally thousands of backdated National Geographic magazines, stacked high. Unfortunately, I did not have the room available to store all the magazines myself, so I made the decision to donate all the magazines to a local school to assist the pupil’s global knowledge by way of self-education.
I have always continued to purchase the National Geographic ever since. When I reach a lack of storage space, I donate all my copies to the local college who are always thankful recipients of my donation. I sometimes wonder if any college students have read the magazines and like me become obsessed with the wonderment of this world and taken careers in this field?
Over recent months, I have completed three excellent National Geographic online education courses. I have recently completed the “Applying Geographic Thinking skills with your learners” course, “Developing the Explorer Mindset” course and the “Storytelling for Impact” photography course. I can highly recommend these courses to any interested parties.
“Completing these courses has made me feel a lot more connected to the magazine, I have loved and admired over the years”
In 2013, I became a full-time freelance photographer and for the past four years, I have been a photography expedition leader and natural world photographer.
Whilst I have never worked with the National Geographic, the organisations inspiration has led my current career path, which includes my passions for photography, adventure, travel, exploration, conservation and experiencing the natural world.
In addition, the past four years have seen me educating and providing tuition to others. I always feel extremely humbled and fortunate to be in this position.
I love to research and explore new destinations whilst experiencing all the different cultures, lifestyles, heritage, the natural world including the wildlife and people within communities in countries from around the globe.
As such, I have been fortunate to have explored six continents and over eighty different countries around the world throughout my working life.
There are still more countries I hope to explore and experience all they have to offer.
Years on from reading my first National Geographic, I can state that the publication in all its forms will always be my “guilty obsession” and long may this continue. It has been an inspiration throughout the whole of my life!
Mark Brion is a UK-based photography expedition and workshop leader, a multi award-winning natural world photographer and naturalist.