Sarah Leen

In 2019, Sarah Leen founded The Visual Thinking Collective as a community for independent photo editors, teachers, and visual managers to serve photographers, media, art and academic institutions, NGOs, and corporate clients in telling their stories in unique, authentic, and highly visual ways.

In 2014, Sarah became the first female Directory of Photography for National Geographic Magazine and Visual Media. She led a team of photo editors, photo researchers, freelance photographers, staff studio photographers, and a photo engineer. She assigned all photographers, and departmental budgets, and led the visual content for both the National Geographic magazine and the Nat Geo Traveler magazine.

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

Leen teaches photography and photo editing at the Missouri Photo Workshops, the Maine Media Workshops, the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, the Eddie Adams Workshop, and Syracuse University. Mentorships are available through application and portfolio review.

Editing photography books with individual photographers is a passion. Leen has edited Habibi, by Antonio Faccilongo, a World Press Photo Book award winner for FotoEvidence, Like a Bird by Johanna-Maria Fritz and Anders Wo by Petra Barth.

Leen has juried numerous contests including Pictures of the Year International, LensCulture, Critical Mass, Photo Lucida, 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 and the Santa Fe Center Reviews.

She is on the Board of the International League of Conservation Photographers, on the Advisory Council for the Eddie Adams Workshop and a member of The Photo Society. Leen has curated exhibitions at Photoville, NYC, the Annenberg Space for Photography LA, LOOK3 and the National Geographic Museum.

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