Photographer Cotton Coulson, a former National Geographic contributor and Baltimore Sun DOP, died yesterday as a result of a diving accident last Sunday, according to NPPA‘s News Photographer magazine. He was 60 years old.
Coulson was participating as an instructor in a 17-day National Geographic adventure photography workshop in Norway when the accident occurred. According to the NPPA report, Coulson signaled trouble to a diving partner, who then dragged him to the surface of the water. The diving partner administered CPR, and rescue workers were able to re-start Coulson’s heart, but he never regained consciousness. He died at a hospital in Tromsø, Norway.
“We are devastated,” says photographer Doug Menuez, who along with his wife was close friends with Coulson and his wife, former National Geographic photographer Sisse Brimberg. Menuez remembers Coulson as an iconoclast “with a wicked sense of humor,” and adds, “Cotton wasn’t blowing his own horn. He was content to do excellent work, and let it speak for itself.
“It’s heartbreaking to think he’s gone.”
A National Geographic spokesperson told PDN that the publisher will soon issue a statement about Coulson’s death.
Coulson began contributing to National Geographic in 1975, after graduating from film school at New York University. He was hired as a contract photographer the following year, and produced more than a dozen stories for the magazine.
Around 1987, he became associate director of photography at US News & World Report, and several years later, joined The Baltimore Sun as Director of Photography.
In the mid 1990s, Coulson relocated to San Francisco, where he was senior VP/Product Development at CNET. About a decade ago, he and Brimberg moved to Copenhagen, and founded a production company called Keenpress. They produced photography and films about travel, climate issues, the environment and other subjects for various media outlets and corporations.
In addition to his wife, Coulson is survived by his son Calder and daughter Saskia, as well as by his sister and his mother.