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"Women of Vision" Exhibits Work by Female National Geographic Photojournalists

National Geographic photojournalist Maggie Steber remembers one of the first times she was confronted with the real possibility of danger on the job.

"Once in Haiti in a church that had been attacked by a gang with machetes and machine guns, and it was the church of Father Aristide, who later became president, and many people were killed, and there was only one way out, and I realized I had to get out, and I panicked," Steber recounts from her Miami home. "I ran down the middle aisle of the church and right into the arms of a man with a machete, and he raised the machete." An old, worn trapping of femininity ended up saving her life.

"When these things happen, it's a split second, but when you replay them in your mind, it's in slow motion, and I looked into that guy's eyes and I didn't see anything, and that scared me so much. That day, fortunately, I wore an old dress, and he had me by my dress, but the dress tore, and I was able to get away because of it. But then there were several other times where something bad could have happened after that."

Having been to more than 62 countries in her career, Steber is one of a select group of photojournalists sent on assignment to cover political upheaval, child marriage, war zones, natural disasters, genocide, and many other breathtaking but non-headline-making moments in between for the magazine. The scope of Steber's group narrows even further to female photojournalists -- a category she happily shares with several women involved in the traveling art show "Women of Vision: National Geographic Photographers on Assignment."

The exhibition opens Thursday at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, a nonprofit visual-arts organization dedicated to community programs, workshops, and other educational activities that promote the arts of photography and digital imaging.

Steber, along with Lynsey Addario, Kitra Cahana, Jodi Cobb, Diane Cook, Carolyn Drake, Lynn Johnson, Beverly Joubert, Erika Larsen, Stephanie Sinclair, and Amy Toensing, has more than 100 photographs on display at the center during FOTOfusion's 20th-anniversary festival this week.

The project, curated by National Geographic Senior Photo Editor Elizabeth Krist, covers a wide range of landscapes and social issues, including everything under the lens from trophy hunting in Zambia to the packed beaches of Jersey Shore.

The show's impetus came during an anniversary planning issue, when the magazine's editors began selecting some of their favorite pieces and realized that many of the most influential of the photographs were taken by their female photographers, so perhaps it was time to take note of this accomplishment. The show opened in Washington, D.C., in 2013.

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Terra Sullivan

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