National Geographic : 1985 Dec
On Assignment "CO YOU'RE THE ONE," said Pope John Paul II to GEOGRAPHIC photographerJim Stanfield, far right, who with his wife, Bar bara, and Director of Photography Robert E. Gilka and his wife, Jan, attended an audience in St. Peter's Square last May. "I had been cov ering Vatican City for months and asking to shoot a lot of subjects out of the ordinary," ex plains Jim. "The Pope had seen me around, but this was the first time we spoke." Jim often worked with fellow GEOGRAPHIC photographer Vie Boswell, as when they spent six hours positioning 33 photo lights in the Vatican Library and then "about 20 min utes making the picture" (pages 766-7). Certain that he had worn out his welcome, Jim was surprised when one of our editors re ceived a letter from Marjorie Weeke, Vatican liaison for the media. "His name has gone down in Vatican history," she wrote. "I'm sure that if I go to the audience this morning in the piazza, the Holy Father himself will look around and ask: 'Where's Stanfield?'" Such perseverance is a trait encouraged by Bob Gilka, one of the most respected figures in photojournalism, who retired in July after 22 years as the GEOGRAPHIC'S photo chief. Speaking for his colleagues, Jim says, "Bob was always looking for a fresh eye and encour aging young photographers. Early in my ca reer, about 1964, he wrote me: 'Strive to be an individual. Once you're satisfied with photo graphing the subject in the same style or man ner, you're defeated.' He always wanted more out of you, and you were willing to do it, no matter what it took." Yet Bob was a man of few words. "If you got one grunt," says Jim, "you did pretty well. If you got two grunts, the story must have been a blockbuster." Deeply committed to the educational efforts of the National Press Photographers Associa tion, Bob made his mark outside the Society as well, judging photo contests and teaching work from which he plans no retirement.