Dennis Dimick, former executive environment editor for National Geographic magazine, is the latest recipient of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award. Dimmick earned a master’s degree in life science communication from the University of Wisconsin in 1974. On October 19, he spoke to the National about various topics he has covered and photographed in his Geographic.
Dimick, the son of a biologist, said he spent much of his time outdoors and on his family’s 88-acre farm. This helped him develop an appreciation for the environment and science from an early age. He later used this appreciation and time spent outdoors to become an environmental photojournalist and journalist for National Geographic.
Dimmick co-founded Eyes on Earth with Jim Richardson, according to Dimmick’s website. For this project, Dimmick and Richardson sought to document environmental change through photography.
“I imagined myself as an independent contractor within the environment,” Dimmick said. “I didn’t want to write other people’s songs.”
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Dimmick said that during his time at National Geographic, he covered a wide range of topics, from food systems, food waste and food safety to glacier melting and environmental sustainability.
Dimmick said the series he proposed and worked on included documenting who feeds the world. Through this series, Dimmick wanted people to learn about the farmers who grow the food the world consumes and “keep us from hunger.” This series included portraits of farmers in specific situations. The photographer paid special attention to lighting and lens selection so that the viewer could understand where the farmers were.
Dimmick continues to inspire generations of environmental photojournalists and journalists as the leader of the “River Story” class offered at the University of Oregon School of Journalism. Through this class, Dimmick said he hopes to encourage his students to pitch their own story ideas.
“[It involves learning the] It’s a process of getting in front of other people and standing up for what you believe in,” Dimmick said.