Of course, every professional photographer hopes for The Epic Shot, the once-in-a-lifetime collision of opportunity and skill that gains a photograph instant entry into the pantheon alongside Joe Rosenthal’s Iwo Jima, Bob Jackson’s encounter with Jack Ruby gunning down Lee Harvey Oswald, and the Apollo 8 astronauts’ color depictions of planet Earth in its beaming entirety. And yet, game-changing photographs are not what National Geographic photographers do. The most iconic photograph ever to grace these pages is not of anyone or anything historic. Rather, it’s of Sharbat Gula, an Afghan girl of maybe 12 when photographer Steve McCurry encountered her in 1984 at a refugee camp in Pakistan. What her intense, sea-green eyes told the world from the cover of National Geographic ’s June 1985 issue a thousand diplomats and relief workers could not. The Afghan girl’s stare drilled into our collective subconscious and stopped a heedless Western world dead in its tracks. Here was the snare of truth. We knew her instantly, and we could no longer avoid caring.