From the Los Angeles Times, O’Rear subsequently moved on to National Geographic magazine in 1971. He was sent to Alaska for his first assignment, taking photos of Russian villagers there known as “Old Believers.” He continued working for National Geographic for almost a quarter of a century, travelling all over the world.
Some of O’Rear’s most cherished images from his National Geographic years were shot in Indonesia. He spent a year there, in fact, taking 15,000 photographs. They included this striking image of girls at a school, enveloped in white cloth and lined up to pray.
“I have been told that I held a record at National Geographic for proposals submitted and accepted as stories at the magazine,” O’Rear said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I studied the magazine and knew it well, so my story suggestions were new and fresh.” What’s more, O’Rear himself even appeared on the magazine’s cover on two separate occasions.