PDN: What’s your role at
QUENTIN NARDI: My main
duties are working on feature
stories and, if the cover is a photo,
producing the cover. The photo
department is me; Jeff Campagna,
the photo editor; and Donny
Bajohr, the junior photo editor.
We report to Maria Keehan, the
art director, who manages the
photo and art departments.
PDN: For people who think
Smithsonian only covers
Smithsonian exhibitions, can you
explain the magazine’s mission?
Q.N.: There is a connection to the
19 Smithsonian Museums, but
we have a fairly free approach
to covering science, technology,
art and culture, which makes
for a compelling and interesting
In terms of photography, every
story is completely different.
That’s one of the most wonderful
things about being here, just the
diversity of subject matter.
PDN: Are you relying on a stable
of contributors, or looking for
Q.N.: When I stepped into the
amazing shoes of Molly Roberts,
who had been chief photo editor
here for 15 years, I was extremely
cognizant of the photographers
she’d used before, and was
impressed by them. The short
answer to your question is: It’s
a combination. There are a lot
of photographers who Molly
brought on who are amazing and
get what we do here. There are
I seek out, and there are people
I’ve worked with in my past.
The first week I got here, I met
with [photographer] Daniella
Zalcman. When I discovered [the
database] Women Photograph,
I made a commitment to myself
to use as many women in the
magazine as I could.
EYE ON HISTORY, CULTURE
Smithsonian Magazine, published 11 times a year, covers all the subjects that are studied and
exhibited by the 19 Smithsonian Museums: art and culture, science, history, innovation and
popular culture. Chief photo editor Quentin Nardi joined the magazine in February. An 18-year
veteran of magazine publishing, she previously worked at AARP the Magazine, and was on the
staffs of Outside and Ski. We asked her about finding and assigning photographers around the
world to cover the magazine’s wide-ranging subject matter.
LEFT AND BELOW: Nardi hired portrait
photographers Bryan Derballa, Nate
Ryan and Eli Meir Kaplan to photograph
researchers working on a vaccine against
multiple strains of influenza. Nardi says
about the many topics Smithsonian covers,
“In terms of photography, every story is
LEFT AND ABOVE: Alice Martins photographed
an Iraqi archaeologist who looked for
antiquities damaged by the Islamic State.
“Looking at [Martins’s] website, I could
see she’s [been] in a war zone but there’s
something still and thoughtful about her
images,” says Quentin Nardi.