The High Cost of Obeying The Masters of Photography

In The Green Case for Cities (The Atlantic, October 2009), Witold Rybczynski makes a great point:

Growing grass on a roof is definitely photogenic,
but it is not as energy- and cost-efficient
as simply painting the roof white

National Geographic magazine would never feature a story called White Roofs. And if presented with such a proposal, the Magazine’s Picture People would condemn the pitch for its deadly lack of visual variety, then dispatch it (maybe) to Departments. And so, driven by what might be called The Eye Candy Commandment, Chris Johns—NGM’s Editor-in-Chief and a former photographer himself—recently published Green Roofs instead:

The green roof atop Chicago's City Hall

Chicago's City Hall

In other words: What’s best for the planet (white roofs) is not what’s best for photographers (green ones). Which once again begs the question:

Is the mission of National Geographic
to inspire people to care about the planet?
Or is the real mission
to inspire people to care about pictures
of the planet?

≡   photograph by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel via National Geographic

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