Chris Johns (photographer)

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Chris Johns (born April 15, 1951)[1] is a photographer who was the editor-in-chief for National Geographic Magazine from January 2005 to April 2014. After a reorganization, in April 2014, Johns was named chief content officer of National Geographic Magazine.[2] He spent many years in Africa for the magazine and is the first photographer to have been 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).[3] 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.[4] 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).[5]

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

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


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