Meet the Genius Behind National Geographic’s Photography Equipment

National Geographic photographers are amongst the most extreme bunch. And to be honest, most of the photographers I know—myself included—dream of working for the company. Everybody knows that it’s a tough job, but National Geographic’s photographers have a few tricks up their sleeves. And Kenji Yamaguchi is the mastermind behind those tricks:

Kenji Yamaguchi is a “tinkerer” by profession. He creates and modifies custom gear for the photographers. He has been doing it for over 32 years.

national geographic photography gear maker

Kenji Yamaguchi busily creates in his workshop.

Whenever photographers need something that isn’t made by camera manufacturers, they turn to Yamaguchi, because he is the only person who can help them obtain that custom piece of gear. For example, he’s developed tweaks that shorten the minimum focus distance for a wide angle lens, allowing photographers to take shots from extremely close perspectives.

The relationship often goes the opposite way, too, when Yamaguchi has a cool idea of his own and the photographers make use of it.

national geographic tinkerer in photography

Photographers rely on Yamaguchi’s contraptions to complete their assignments.

A modest man, his main goal is achieving the impossible.

“To accomplish a photograph that hasn’t been done before, I think is the bottom line of this department.”

At the end of the day, all Yamaguchi needs is a “thank you for your help” to be happy.

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