Neil Shea


Photo by Randy Olson.

Short Stories from a Dry Country

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.