David Guttenfelder — A Rare Look: North Korea to Cuba
National Geographic Live
In 2011, David Guttenfelder made history when he helped the Associated Press open a bureau in North Korea—the first-ever Western news agency in the politically isolated country. For the first time in North Korean history, images of daily life there were sent to the world, while Guttenfelder himself acted as an unofficial ambassador. In 2016, he broke through another wall when he boarded the first cruise ship in decades to travel from the United States to Cuba, and returned to the island to cover Fidel Castro’s four-day funeral procession. His talent for crossing long-closed borders has led to some of National Geographic’s most revealing geopolitical photo essays, as well as connecting people around the world through social media platforms like Instagram.
David Guttenfelder is a National Geographic Society Fellow concentrating on global geopolitical and conservation issues. He has spent his entire career as a photojournalist working and living outside of his native USA. He began as a freelancer in East Africa after completing his studies in Swahili at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Guttenfelder spent 20 years as a photojournalist for the Associated Press based in Nairobi, Abidjan, New Delhi, Jerusalem, and Tokyo, covering news in more than 75 countries around the world. In 2011, he helped the AP open a bureau in North Korea, the first western news agency to have an office in the otherwise-isolated country. Guttenfelder has made more than 40 trips to North Korea.
Guttenfelder is a seven-time World Press Photo Award winner. He is the 2013 ICP Infinity Prize winner for photojournalism and a winner of the Overseas Press Club of America John Faber, Olivier Rebbot, & Feature Photography awards. Pictures of the Year International and the NPPA have named him Photojournalist of the Year. He was short listed for the National Magazine Award for public interest in 2014. He is a seven-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Guttenfelder had been an industry leader in smartphone photography and social media. He was named 2014 Instagram photographer of the year by TIME magazine, received the Shorty Award for online photography, and the 2013 Online Journalism Award. His North Korea mobile phone photography was featured at the 2014 Cortona Photo Festival in Tuscany. He was part of the panel lecture, “Instagramming the News”, at the 2014 SXSW digital conference. He is the founder of the Instagram collectives @everydayUSA and @everydayDPRK.
Born in Iowa, he graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, African Studies, and Journalism.
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