PMDA Names National Geographic’s Chris Johns Person of the Year

PMDA Names National Geographic’s Chris Johns Person of the Year


Woodbury, NY—The PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA) will award six individuals for their outstanding contributions to the photography industry during PMDA’s Imaging Night, January 7, at XS Nightclub in the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, prior to the 2013 International CES. Chris Johns, editor in chief of National Geographic magazine, will receive the esteemed Person of the Year honor at the event.

Other honorees include Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist and director Vincent Laforet, who was named Photographer of the Year, and Tamron president Morio Ono, who will receive the Herbert Keppler Technical Achievement Award. In addition, Teruo Hirayama, developer of the back-illuminated image sensor (BSI), will be awarded the PMDA Visionary Award; industry veteran Ron Inkley will be given the PMA/DIMA Lifetime Achievement Award; and Michihiro Yamaki, the founder of Sigma Corporation who passed away in January 2012, will be honored posthumously with a special PMDA Lifetime Achievement Award.

PMDA, a respected photo industry organization founded in 1939 that brings together some of the most renowned brand names in the photographic community, gives out the prestigious PMDA Awards annually to the persons or organizations that have made a meaningful impact or significant contribution to the photography industry during the year or over the course of their careers.

“The PMDA is honored to spend an evening saluting the achievements of these six leaders of our industry,” said Mike Kahn, PMDA president. “Their contributions to the art, technology and business of photography have made a lasting mark for future generations.”

Person of the Year.
Chris Johns became editor in chief of National Geographic magazine in January 2005. He is only the ninth editor of the magazine since its founding in 1888. His extensive redesign of the magazine and focus on excellence in photojournalism and reporting have revitalized the magazine into a timely, relevant read for people looking for deeper insight into environmental and energy issues, world cultures, science and the natural world.

Under his leadership, the magazine continues to be the hallmark of world-renowned groundbreaking images that promote the true power of the photography. Johns’s editorial efforts have been recognized with 13 National Magazine Awards from the American Society of Magazine Editors, most recently for Magazine of the Year and Single-Topic Issue in 2011.

Herbert Keppler Technical Achievement Award.
Morio Ono, president and CEO, Tamron Co., Ltd., joined Tamron in 1974 and has held a series of important roles in the company—from sales and marketing, product development and supply chain management to production. He was voted to the board of the directors at age 30 and became president and CEO in 2002.

One of his most distinguished achievements was playing a key role in the development of the first generation of the high-power 28–200mm zoom lens in 1992, a product that constituted a major milestone in the history of interchangeable lenses. This product was among the first to use a small form factor while delivering superb image quality from wide angle to telephoto in one single lens. Twenty years later, Tamron’s lens business continues to evolve and thrive under Ono’s leadership and pioneering spirit. Several Tamron high-power zoom lenses have received numerous awards around the globe for technological innovations, and Tamron’s quality has become a cornerstone of the interchangeable-lens market.

Photographer of the Year.
Vincent Laforet, a three-time winner at the prestigious 2010 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, is a director and Pulitzer Prize–winning photographer who is known for his forward-thinking approach to image making and storytelling. In addition to having been commissioned by just about every important international publication—including Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, and Life—Laforet is considered a pioneer for his innovative tilt-shift and aerial photography and his work in the field of HD-capable DSLR cameras. In fact, his short film Reverie, the first 1080p video shot with a still camera, was seen more than 2 million times on the first week of its release in 2009.

In 2005, American Photo named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in Photography, and the World Press Photo Awards, the Pictures of the Year Competition, the Overseas Press Club, the National Headliners Awards and the Pro-Football Hall of Fame have recognized him in the Communication Arts and PDN annuals.

Norman C. Lipton Lifetime Achievement Award.
Michihiro Yamaki, who passed away in January 2012 at the age of 78, founded Sigma Corporation in September 1961 with the development of the first-ever rear-attached lens converter. At that time, most photo enthusiasts believed that a lens converter could only be attached to the front of a camera lens, but the 27-year-old optical engineer reinvented conventional optical theory. 

Yamaki was an industry visionary whose leadership and enthusiasm were the driving force behind Sigma’s innovation for more than 50 years. He served organizations such as the JPEA, Photographic Society of Japan and the Japan Camera Industry Institute. He is also an IPC Hall of Fame inductee.

PMDA Visionary Award. Teruo Hirayama joined Sony Corporation in 1981, starting in the research division of the semiconductor group, where he helped develop static random access memories (SRAM), dynamic random access memories (DRAM) and CMOS LSIs for music players and game players. He moved to Sony’s image sensor division in 2002, and in 2003 he became involved in developing back-illuminated CMOS image sensors. Their development was completed in 2009, and now Sony’s BSI CMOS sensors are widely incorporated into compact digital cameras, video cameras and cell phones. Currently, Hirayama is involved in the development of semiconductor technologies.

PMA/DIMA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ron Inkley survived a waning economy and a momentous shift in the photo-imaging field and lived to tell about his retail success. Inkley started his business selling photographic merchandise in 1947 with a loan from his father. Within two years, he had paid back that loan, and over time, his business expanded to include 21 stores in four states.

“For 55 years, the industry didn’t change much,” Inkley said. Then came what he calls the “interesting transition” from film to digital, accompanied by economic upheaval. In 1996, Inkley sold his business but stayed involved in the industry through trade groups and consulting work. Two years ago, he partnered with his son to start a new business, The Imaging Depot, in downtown Ogden, Utah. A former PMA president, Inkley was also president of the Photographic Research Organization (PRO) from 1983 to 1996 and has served on its executive committee for 52 years.

PMDA will host Imaging Night 2013 at the Las Vegas XS Nightclub in the Encore Hotel, located at 3131 S. Las Vegas Boulevard. The celebration will take place on January 7 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Founded in 1939, PMDA provides a series of forums throughout the business year for its membership to exchange ideas and learn about new technologies and business trends, in addition to administering programs that promote photography to the general public. Programs and symposiums feature leading photo-imaging product suppliers and retailers, as well as financial analysts and technical experts. The organization has also teamed with PMA International to produce, a site created to help American consumers find meaningful ways to incorporate photography into aspects of their everyday lives, while helping them to make intelligent decisions about buying new cameras and accessories.