Neil Shea


- Is there a certain shower I shouldn’t use?

- None of them. Everything here is covered with semen.

US soldier
Combat Outpost, Konar Province, Afghanistan

Short Stories from a Dry Country

A Vanishing World Along Ethiopia's Omo River

For the last six years, photographer Randy Olson and I have been documenting culture, change and conflict in the watershed that connects southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. In the August issue of National Geographic, we’ll publish our latest work, from Lake Turkana. But before that issue arrives in print, we’ve begun a new storytelling experiment on Instagram—pairing Randy’s photos with my short, true stories.

Far as we know, it’s the first collaborative storytelling done using the platform, and we’re hoping to draw attention to the people we met back when we began this project, in 2009. The intent is not to rehash what we’ve already done, or to add more normal journalism to the stacks, already plenty high. With these stories we’re aiming for something else—new work that pulls nearer to the art and poetry that inspire us, while also complementing and pushing documentary form. Please join us on Instagram across three accounts, @natgeo, @randyolson and @neilshea13, as we follow water through the desert.

Last Rites for the Jade Sea

Kenya's Lake Turkana | in National Geographic

Letter from Kakuma

Nowhere Girl | in The American Scholar

Fly by Light

The Men Who Would Fly Forever | in National Geographic

A Gathering Menace

Making Taliban | in The American Scholar

The Revolution is

Castro's Cuba at 50 | in VQR | Winner of the Silver Lowell Thomas Award

Writing the Future

Dispatches from Kenya, August 2013

Wedding Crashers

Documentary work vs. Buzz kill :: Dispatch from Kenya, August 2013

We Don’t Talk About That Stuff Here

Dispatch from Iraq: How Long Does Identity Last?

“God, country. Then family.”

The View from an Iraqi Classroom :: May 2013

Al Taqaddum

Behind the Story: Looking back at Iraq