© Jared Soares

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 Director 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.

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.

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.

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 Review. She was also a member of the World Report Award | Documenting Humanity jury in 2018.

She is an Affiliate 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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