John Post photos featured in National Geographic calendar
by Mark McDermott
John Post started taking photographs in 1974 and sold his first photo at the Hometown Fair the following year. He’d returned from traveling for three years on the other side of the world, particularly in India. It’s easier to see the world with fresh eyes in unfamiliar places, but when Post returned to his hometown, Manhattan Beach, he saw it as if for the first time.
He’s been seeing it anew ever since. Post has almost certainly photographed the Manhattan Beach pier more than anyone, ever; it’s equally likely more people have seen the pier through his photographs than those of any other photographer. Post can now add to that tally: National Geographic’s iconic desk calendar this year features a photo he took of the pier in the 1990s.
“Somebody asked me a year or so ago when I go to take a photo of the pier, how do I do it?” Post said. “I’ve been taking photographs of the pier, and the South Bay generally, my whole life. But just this morning I walked to my gallery after parking my car and I saw the pier… every day I see it brand new like I’ve never seen it before. Every time it looks a little different. I’ve been observing it so many years, I can see all the little changes or things that happened over time, yet I also see it with new eyes.”
The photo is actually one of three of Post’s National Geographic used in its 2018 calendar. The others were photos taken in Florida and New Mexico by the peripatetic photographer. It’s not the first time. Post is affiliated with a stock photo company out of Chicago, called Panoramic Images, which National Geographic regularly uses. Post has had multiple photos in past calendars as well, but he never knows until the calendar is published and a few copies show up in his mail from National Geographic.
“You just never know where these things are going to show up,” Post said. “To get one in this publication is great; to get three is, ‘Wow. Cool.”
“Out of a million pictures, they chose three of his,” said Mark Lipps, CEO of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Lipps said that in a town where 70 percent of the population has turned over since 2000, the unassuming Post is perhaps not as celebrated as he should be because non-natives are not as aware of his work as longtime locals.
“People know Bo Bridges but they often don’t know John Post,” Lipps said. “Here is this legendary photographer walking by you unknown, whose work has been featured in major magazines, and here is just one, National Geographic. But if you are talking old school guys, no one does not have a John Post photograph. He’s a Manhattan Beach legacy — he’s truly one our legacies, and he’s still here, and still kicking around.”
Lipps also noted that the choice of the pier photograph, which stretches across two pages of the calendar and includes a short history of the pier, is an indication of the city’s growing international profile.
“It’s another example of, whether you like it or not, Manhattan Beach has become a global destination,” Lipps said.
For more information, see JohnPost.com. To order the calendar, see shop.NationalGeographic.com.