Each episode starts with a specific assignment and then goes deeper into the personal lives of the photographer. Mental health is a frequent topic. Love, too: love of family, the ocean, the thrill. Love for that exact moment when they know they got the shot, a feeling I’ve experienced vicariously often. Photographer’s mission, really, isn’t to show you beautiful photos; it’s to show you what it took to get them.

Insecurity also prevails. So does obsession with getting it perfect. They have a vision from the start. “Is it good enough?” asks Addy in reference to the results of any of his assignments.

Fashion photographer Campbell Addy is known for the way he captures Black and queer identities.Photograph: Courtesy of National Geographic

NatGeo’s new show also goes deep on just how wrong a photoshoot can go. In science photographer Anand Varma’s episode, he struggles with a time lapse of a hatching chick. Addy finds himself contending with his first solo exhibition. Despite this, they both emphasize they must get their client—usually someone, like me, sitting comfortably distant from the hassles—what they want.

There are so many similarities in these episodes, even though the genres of each photographer vary, from war to wildlife to celebrity portraits. These artists want perfection, and not just for their client but for their own sense of self, so they can move on to the next project in peace.

Science photographer Anand Varma works in his lab and photo studio Berkeley, California.Photograph: Courtesy of National Geographic

By Oscar M

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