Photography is a great tool to use in conservation efforts around the globe. Check out the following famous wildlife photographers and the incredible work they're doing.
Humans have long had a fascination with the animal kingdom, and wildlife photography has the ability to connect us with nature. This is more important than ever before as we become so far removed from the natural ecosystems around us due to an increasing reliance on technology.
How we treat the planet and everything on it will determine what the future looks like. The following famous wildlife photographers aim to inspire, engage and empower their audience and spark change and awareness.
1. Nick Brandt
Nick Brandt is a famous wildlife photographer from England. His primary focus is on the environmental destruction that comes from climate change and human actions. You can check out his photography series on his website.
His latest series focuses on people and animals affected by climate change and aims to draw attention its dangers for biodiversity. His first-hand accounts of the environmental destruction occurring lead him to co-found the Big Life Foundation in 2010 which now protects 1.6 million acres with more than 300 rangers in permanent and mobile outposts in Africa.
2. Famous Wildlife Photographers: Suzi Eszterhas
Well-known for documenting newborns and family life in the wild, Suzi Eszterhas definitely deserves to be on our list of famous wildlife photographers. She was named the 2021 Outstanding Photographer of the Year by the North American Nature Photography Association.
Her photos have graced the covers of many popular magazines including TIME and BBC Wildlife. She has 25 books published including a few children’s books. Suzi raises funds and awareness for conservation through supporting wildlife charities and is the founder and executive director of Girls Who Click which is a non-profit that aims to get more women into the industry. View her portfolio on her website.
3. Brian Skerry
A photojournalist by trade, Brian Skerry also makes the list of famous wildlife photographers. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Brian is an incredible storyteller through his photos. His primary focus is on underwater and marine photography and has been working with National Geographic Magazine for nearly 25 years to help bring awareness to one of our most fragile ecosystems.
His latest book, Secrets of the Whales, was released in April as part of a multiplatform project including an award-winning four-part documentary series on Disney+. You can check out more of his work on his website.
4. Famous Wildlife Photographers: Marsel van Oosten
Marsel van Oosten actually began his career in marketing as an art director, but he discovered his passion for nature photography and concern for the environment on a trip to Tanzania where he got up close to the majestic creatures of the Serengeti.
This award-winning Dutch photographer is a regular contributor to National Geographic and his photos focus on simplicity to help viewers connect with the subject. For budding wildlife photographers, you can join one of his photography tours. If you prefer to view his work, you can do so on the Squiver website.
5. Paul Nicklen
Paul Nicklen is a famous wildlife photographer from Canada best known for his focus on marine life. Along with being a photographer, he is also a filmmaker and a marine biologist. He has won over 30 of the most prestigious awards given to photographers, including BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year. It’s hard to miss why he is deserving of these accolades when you view his portfolio on his website.
Paul has collaborated with other filmmakers, scientists, and conservationists to raise awareness and inspire action for global issues like climate change. Alongside his partner (Cristina Mittermeier), he co-founded a non-profit called SeaLegacy, which focuses on ocean conservation.
6. Famous Wildlife Photographers: Cristina Mittermeier
Born in Mexico, Cristina Mittermeier developed a passion for the ocean and everything in it. She is a photographer, writer, and marine biologist focused on conservation. In order to give photographers a platform for other photographers working on environmental issues, she founded the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). She also co-founded SeaLegacy with Paul Nicklen.
Cristina’s work has appeared countless times in publications such as National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, and TIME. She has also been the recipient of the Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year Award. View more of her incredible work on her website.
7. Frans Lanting
Frans Lanting is another famous wildlife photographer from the Netherlands, who aims to use photography as leverage for both local and global conservation efforts. He is an ambassador for World Wildlife Fund Netherlands and his work is frequently commissioned for National Geographic. In addition, he is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).
His series Dialogues with Nature showcases animals from all seven continents as you’ve never seen them before. The photos have been taken throughout his nature photography career and have been put together thoughtfully and artistically. You can view this series and more on his website.
8. Ami Vitale
Said to be one of the most influential conservation photographers of her generation, Ami Vitale takes wildlife photography one step further. Her photo stories help show the realities of conservation and highlight the people that work hard in the field.
She is a National Geographic photographer, and the founder/executive director of Vital Impacts, a non-profit that uses art to empower youth to become activists. You can view her enlightening stories on her website.
9. Famous wildlife photographers: Florian Schulz
Florian Schulz is a famous wildlife photographer and videographer from Germany. He has a knack for visual storytelling and aims to inspire action and change to preserve the natural environment for generations to come. Conservation is at the heart of his passion, and he is a huge advocate for wildlife corridors around the globe.
In recent years, Florian has shifted his focus to the Arctic, as it is one of the fastest-changing and most threatened ecosystems on earth. His documentary The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness was released in 2021 and showcases a way of life that is so foreign to most of the world’s population. View some of his other work on his website.
10. Joel Sartore
Joel Sartore has been a wildlife photographer for over 25 years and has a straightforward goal: to get the public to care about and save species from extinction. How he has gone about doing this through his project the Photo Ark – the world’s largest collection of animal studio portraits. He is a National Geographic photographer whose work has been showcased in the New York Times and the Smithsonian.
He firmly believes that the destruction of habitats and extinction of species has a direct impact on humankind, and hopes to inspire people to aid in conservation efforts by getting to see animals up close and personal. You can view all of the 13,677 species captured so far on his website.
11. Rathika Ramasamy
Rathika Ramasamy is arguably India’s most famous wildlife photographer and has over 19 years of experience in the field. She gives regular wildlife photography and conservation talks across India and, like other photographers in her field, is a huge advocate for conservation.
Her photos have been featured in publications around the world including National Geographic Traveller India and BBC Wildlife Magazine. Her primary focus is on the diverse wildlife of India, which gives her a unique edge. You can view her portfolio on her website.
12. Famous Wildlife Photographers: Charlie Hamilton James
Charlie Hamilton James did not dream of becoming a wildlife photographer, but he progressed into the profession quite organically. He originally was aiming for the big screen, but he developed an interest in kingfisher birds and capturing them with his film camera. The BBC took notice and he began his career working on David Attenborough’s The Trials of Life documentary.
After meeting a National Geographic editor, he eventually traded in his TV career for a chance to shoot for the magazine and the rest is history. He has gone on to shoot incredible photos for the magazine and become a famous wildlife photographer in his own right. He also works together with other photographers and various non-profits focused on conservation. View his work on his website.
13. Christian Ziegler
This famous German wildlife photographer focuses on natural history and topics related to science. A tropical ecologist by trade, Christian Ziegler transitioned into wildlife photography quite naturally. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic and is also a founding fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).
His portfolio ranges from flora to fauna, all of which he beautifully captures with a skilled eye. He lives with his family on the edge of a rainforest national park in Panama and has limitless opportunities to get out and explore the world around him.
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