Chris Johns (photographer)

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Chris Johns (born April 15, 1951)[1] is a photographer who is the editor-in-chief for National Geographic Magazine, a position he has held since 2005. He spent many years in Africa for the magazine and is the first photographer to be named its editor-in-chief. He started his journalism career at daily newspapers.


Born in Medford, Oregon, Johns studied agriculture at Oregon State University and photojournalism at the University of Minnesota. Johns began his photography career as a staff member at The Topeka Capital-Journal (where he and Gerald Ford's daughter Susan Ford were the paper's two interns in 1975).[2] He was named Newspaper Photographer of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association in 1979 at age 28, and became a staff photographer at the Seattle Times in 1980.[3] After joining National Geographic, he contributed extensively, shooting two cover articles before becoming an editor.

Johns has photographed extensively in Africa. The foreword to Johns' photography book Valley of Life: Africa's Great Rift was written by Nelson Mandela.

Johns was named Editor of the Year in October 2008 by Advertising Age magazine at the American Magazine Conference. During his tenure as its editor-in-chief, National Geographic twice received the General Excellence prize in the National Magazine Awards (in 2007 and 2008).[4]

Johns was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Indiana University in 2009.

He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with his wife Elizabeth, his daughters Noel and Louise, and his son Tim.


  1. ^ Murg, Stephanie (April 30, 2008). "ELLIES 2008: SO WHAT DO YOU DO, CHRIS JOHNS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC?". Mediabistro. Retrieved December 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ Ford's daughter Susan interned at C-J - Topeka Capital-Journal - December 28, 2006
  3. ^ Garlock, David (2003). Pulitzer Prize Feature Stories: America's Best Writing, 1978-2003. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State Press. p. 180. ISBN 0-8138-2545-8. 
  4. ^ "National Geographic Wins 3 Awards, Honored Beyond Photography" (New York Times, May 2, 2008).

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