Kodachrome Memory


Benn served on the photographic staff of the National Geographic Society from 1972 – 1991

Select Publications —

National Geographic Magazine

Stern Magazine, Hamburg

GEO Magazine, Hamburg

The Independent Sunday Magazine, London

Merian Magazine, Hamburg

Paris Match

Epoca Magazine, Milan

Solo Exhibitions

Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT  2015

Harnett Art Museum, Richmond, VA  2016

Leica Gallery, Los Angeles, CA  2016

Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA  2017

Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona, MN 2017

HistoryMiami Museum, Miami, FL  2018-2019





Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

National Portrait Gallery

Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Harvard Art Museums

George Eastman Museum

Peabody Essex Museum

Shelburne Museum

The seeming inconsequential subject of Benn’s photographs - which are keenly observed and evocative of a time and place - act as metaphors for American culture and values. Although much of Benn’s work was done for a magazine and not gallery walls, his use of color throughout holds its own with artists of the period such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore.


Nathan Benn embraced color photography before it was considered an acceptable medium for serious documentary expression; he synthesized the intentions of post-World War progressive photo-reportage with modernist aesthetics. The National Geographic Society photographic division recruited Benn, a native of South Florida, immediately upon his 1972 graduation from the University of Miami. Three hundred of his photographs were published in National Geographic Magazine and hundreds more can be found in numerous NGS books.

Benn’s assignments were equally divided between domestic and overseas projects. He typically photographed people in their authentic environment, rarely posing or manipulating the subjects. His reportage for National Geographic included the Netherlands, Dead Sea, Prague, South Korea, Scotland, Florida, Vermont, Massachusetts, Mississippi River, Finger Lakes, Dead Sea, Prague, Hasidic Jews, Jewish Diaspora, medicinal herbs, human physiology, Bible lands archaeology in the Middle East, pre-Columbian archaeology in Peru, and skyscrapers.

While revisiting his archive over the past decade, Benn discovered hundreds of unpublished pictures that vividly depict American culture and diversity. Kodachrome Memory: American Pictures 1972-1990, Benn’s monograph published in 2013 by PowerHouse Books, features over 100 photographs organized by geographic regions and affinities. American Photo magazine honored the monograph as one of the best books of the 2013.

With a uniquely American mix of formality and ease, and a color palette so tart you can almost taste it, Benn makes the past vividly — even painfully — present.

After two decades at National Geographic, Benn put down his cameras in 1991 to focus on nascent digital media technology; this lead to his creation of the first online digital asset management and media licensing enterprise, Picture Network International (PNI). Launched in 1993, PNI’s Internet platform and marketplace revolutionized the stock photography industry, creating the archetype for Corbis and Getty Images.

In early 2000 Benn became Director of Magnum Photos, the renowned photographer cooperative founded in 1948 by Henri-Cartier Bresson, David Seymour, George Rodger, and Robert Capa. Under Benn’s leadership from 2000 to 2003 Magnum transitioned from an analog enterprise to a best-of-class digital platform. The cooperative also published award-wining books including RFK Funeral Train and New York September 11 by Magnum Photographers.  Benn lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Rebecca Abrams, a fine art photographer, and their teenage son. 

Mailing address: Nathan Benn, 360 Furman Street #1019, Brooklyn, NY 11201