Bob Gilka | Photojournalist, 96

Posted: July 01, 2013

Bob Gilka, 96, who oversaw National Geographic photography for more than two decades and helped establish the publication as one of the world's premier sources of photojournalism, died Tuesday in Arlington County, Va., of complications from pneumonia, said his son Jeff Gilka.

As director of photography from 1963 to 1985, Mr. Gilka recruited and deployed field photographers who scaled mountains, plumbed oceans, braved the exotic near and far from home, andsometimes risked their lives to send back an image that would not disappoint.

Mr. Gilka commanded both respect and fear. And while he may not have been gentle, but he was often right. He "moved the magazine from posed and orchestrated pictures into candid, documentary photojournalism," said Terry Eiler, who worked for Mr. Gilka and later co-founded the Ohio University School of Visual Communications.

The 1985 cover image of the "Afghan girl," whom Steve McCurry photographed in a Pakistani refugee camp in 1984, became one of National Geographic's most acclaimed photos. It was one of the last covers published during Gilka's tenure. - Washington Post

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