GEO

GEO was a German magazine that launched an American edition in 1979. The water cooler story was that the New York operation, on the top floor of a building at the corner of Park Avenue and 57th Street, was a tax write-off for the mother corporation back in Germany. They certainly had a lot of money to burn. They wanted to be a National Geographic with passion. Their stories were in color; I hadn't shot any color. I decided to offer them a story where I had an inside connection, on foxhunting. My stepfather had been a larger-than-life figure in the foxhunt in Unionville, Pennsylvania. The editor at GEO agreed to pay for film and processing, so in 1979, for eight weeks I drove down to Unionville every weekend, stayed with a cousin, and photographed the hunt and as much of the life around it as I could. GEO was pleased and bought the story for a handsome fee.

As luck would have it, just as I was bringing in my photos of foxhunting, American GEO hired Alice Rose George as chief photo editor. I'd started working for her two years earlier, at Time Magazine. When she first reviewed my portfolio at Time, in 1978, I was deposited in her office to wait for her to come back from lunch. I was nervous about how well I had sequenced my portfolio, so I spread my prints on the floor to see if I could come up with a better presentation. When Alice walked in, I was on my knees, and there were so many prints spread out that she had to hug the walls to get to her desk. I was appalled at my bad timing; she was amused. She gave me work, I remember vividly when I first encountered her at GEO. She said, "Oh good, you're here already," and proceeded to give me numerous multi-week assignments over the next several years, including stories on BMX bicycles, boxing, mobile homes, and the Metropolitan Opera.

Elisabeth Biondi preceded and succeeded Alice as picture editor. Elisabeth had green lighted the foxhunting story. Elisabeth took over was happy to give me more work after Alice's departure, in 1981. She hired me for the American edition and recommended me for several stories for the German edition. I traveled on assignment to Brazil, to Mexico, to Peru, and around the US.

GEO finally ceased publication at the end of 1984. It had dominated annual magazine awards but never seemed to find its market.