SARAH LEEN 

EDITOR . TEACHER . CURATOR

In 2013, I became the first female Directory of Photography for National Geographic Magazine and Visual Media. I led a team of photo editors, photo researchers, freelance photographers, studio photographers, and a photo engineer. I assigned photographers, managed departmental budgets, and led the visual content for both the National Geographic magazine and the Nat Geo Traveler magazine.

For nearly 20 years prior, I worked as a freelance photographer for National Geographic magazine until 2004, when I joined the NGM staff as a Senior Photo Editor. As a photographer I published 16 magazine stories and produced five covers for NatGeo. I have also won numerous awards for both my photography and photo editing from the NPPA, the Pictures of the Year, World Press Photo Awards and the IPA.


In 2019, I co-founded The Visual Thinking Collective as a community for independent photo editors, teachers and visual consultants that serve photographers, media, and publishers in telling their stories in unique, authentic and highly visual ways.

I teach visual storytelling and photo editing at the Missouri Photo Workshops, the Maine Media Workshops, the 
Santa Fe Photography Workshops, the Eddie Adams Workshop, Syracuse University and At Home in the Berkshires. Mentorships are sometimes available through application and portfolio review.  

Editing photography books with individual photographers is my passion. I have been the photo editor for 
HABIBI, by Antonio Faccilongo, a World Press Photo Book award winner for FotoEvidence, Like a Bird by Johanna-Maria Fritz, Anders Wo by Petra Barth, The Phoenician Collapse by Diego Ibarra Sanchez which won the 2022 Lucie Book Award for Independent Book, We Cry in Silence by Smita Sharma, A Troubled Home by Anush Babajanyan.

In 2023 I was the photo editor of Ukraine: A War Crime by FotoEvidence which was shortlisted for the 2023 Recontres d' Arles Historical Book Award and the winner of the IPA Book Photographer of the Year. It was also nominated for the Lucie Awards for Book Publisher of the Year and Photo Editor of the Year and won the Photo Book of the Year award in 2023 by Pictures of the Year International.

I have juried numerous contests including Pictures of the Year International, LensCulture, Critical Mass, Lens Culture, the FotoEvidence Book Award, the Carmignac Photojournalism Award, the Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, the Getty Images Editorial Grants, the World Press Joop Swarts Masterclass, Critical Mass, and the CENTER's 

Me&EVE grant.

I am Co-Chairman of the Board of the International League of Conservation Photographers, on the 
Lucie Awards Board of Advisors, on the Advisory Council for the Eddie Adams Workshop, a member of The Photo Society, and an inductee into the Missouri Journalism Hall of Fame. I have curated exhibitions at Photoville in Brooklyn, NY, the Annenberg Space for Photography LA, LOOK3 and the National Geographic Museum.

In 2024 I received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

PARTNERS AND CLIENTS: The National Geographic Society, VII Photo, Photoville, Santa Fe Photo Workshops, Maine Media Workshops, FotoEvidence, Women Photograph and PhotoNola.


CONTACT
 

SARAH@VISUALTHINKINGCOLLECTIVE.COM  @ROSELEEN     LINKEDIN

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  CONVERSATIONS      I believe in creating community...
CONVERSATIONS 

I believe in creating community and collaborating with partners to create authentic, compelling and transformative experiences. Please check out this online panel I moderated for the Focus on the Story Festival on how to pitch ideas to photo editors.


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   EDIT/CURATE         Working with individual...
EDIT/CURATE 

Working with individual photographers and publishers to create visually-driven narratives is my passion. I am available to develop your ideas, edit your project or book, curate exhibitions, and review portfolios. Click below to see Ukraine: A War Crime. Now available to order. 


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   TEACH/MENTOR      I teach workshops on how to edit...
TEACH/MENTOR

I teach workshops on how to edit visual narratives at varying locations including Maine Media Workshops and the Santa Fe Photo Workshops. I am also available to create custom workshops about the elements of visual storytelling for your team.


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Visual Thinking Collective

The Visual Thinking Collective is a community of creative independent women. We are committed to visual storytelling.
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Visual Thinking Collective is integrated to:
Visura site builder, a tool to grow your photography business
Visura's network for visual storytellers and journalists
A photography & film archive by Visura
Photography grants, open calls, and contests
A newsfeed for visual storytellers