American photographer Cotton Coulson—who contributed work to National Geographic starting in 1976—died Wednesday, three days after he lost consciousness while SCUBA diving off the coast of Norway as part of an expedition for the Society.
Coulson excelled at capturing meaningful moments, as reflected in the relationship between a farmer and his son or the action of a leaping polar bear. He was a consummate generalist who worked on a wide variety of projects, says Sarah Leen, director of photography at National Geographic magazine.
She met Coulson and his wife, Sisse Brimberg, when Leen interned at National Geographic in 1979 and "they were warm and welcoming," Leen says. "[Coulson] had a great sense of humor."
Gregarious and kind, Coulson constantly pushed himself to be better, says Kathy Moran, senior photo editor at National Geographic magazine. "He found a friend on every assignment he did."
Here are 15 moments captured by Coulson over a four-decade career that took him around the world.