Wilson Center Experts
Leah Bendavid-Val is a historian of photography who has worked with Russian photographers for more than two decades. She is the author most recently of Song Without Words: The Photographs & Diaries of Countess Sophia Tolstoy (published in October 2007). Her two earlier books about Russian photographers and themes are Propaganda & Dreams (1999); and Changing Reality (1991).
Bendavid-Val is former Director of Photography Publishing for National Geographic Books. Books published in her program for popular and professional audiences have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Bendavid-Val is author of two books on the history of National Geographic photography—Stories on Paper & Glass (2001) and the best-selling National Geographic: The Photographs (1994), which is still in print. She is co-author and editor of National Geographic Image Collection, on the New York Times Bestseller List in December 2009.
Based on her Russia and National Geographic work, Leah Bendavid-Val has served as curator for exhibitions at the International Center for Photography, New York, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, the Pushkin Museum, Moscow, and other museums. She teaches writing and book publishing for photographers at the Santa Fe Workshops in New Mexico. She was Commencement Speaker for the University of Maryland Department of Philosophy, Class of 2008.
Leah Bendavid-Val began developing her current project, "Siberia Imagined and Re-Imagined," in 2003. The project looks at ways Russians have photographed Siberia from the 1870s until today, and examines how photography influences perceptions of place. Bendavid-Val’s mission is to bring unknown and important Russian photographs to public awareness for the first time.