Do you remember the times you sat in your school library, probably too young to want to read, but diligently flipping through glossy pages of Nat Geo magazines and staring at pictures of majestic animals, in complete awe? I’m sure, you too, weaved dreams of being the maestro behind the lens that saw such pure beauty this up close. But while many of us ditched our dreams as we grew up, here are some inspiring wildlife photographers that persevered and brought us the best wildlife captures ever.
1. Steve Winter
A National Geographic and conservation photojournalist, Steve Winter is renowned for capturing big cats throughout the world. Whether it be Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh or South Africa’s Cape Mountain, he has captured leopards, lions and tigers in their complete glory. Apart from capturing mighty cats on film, Steve Winter has had quite an adventurous life, courtesy his super cool profession. Reportedly, Steve has been attacked by rhinos, jaguars, a giant grizzly and even been trapped in quicksand in the world's largest tiger reserve in Myanmar! A photographer of high repute, he has been awarded the BBC Wildlife Photographer & Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year.
2. Ami Vitale
A National Geographic photographer, Ami Vitale released some of the first heartbreaking pictures of Sudan, the last male northern white Rhino of the world, who passed away recently. She didn’t just help spread this news, but auctioned these pictures, the money for which went to Ol Pejeta, an organisation that protects and fights for the world's most vulnerable creatures. Her latest film documents Northern Kenya and celebrates the relationship between wild animals that roam freely and the communities that protect them.
3. Rathika Ramasamy
An Indian wildlife photographer, Rathika started out with wildlife photography at her position in Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Ever since then, she has excelled in bird photography and has covered almost all national parks in India and Africa. Alongside her passion for photography, runs a strong enthusiasm to spread awareness about conservation of nature. She also holds highly coveted workshops on photography and in 2015 was awarded the International Camera Fair for outstanding achievements in Wildlife Photography.
4. Brian Skerry
Brian Skerry photographs and writes about marine wildlife and underwater environments. He is renowned for having covered stories in reserves and oceans in New Zealand, Irish Isles and Kingman Reefs, clicking animals such as dolphins, tiger sharks and great white sharks. He is the photographer who accompanied President Obama in 2017 when he inaugurated the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a marine reserve. Brian Skerry also won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, 2017.
5. Sudhir Shivaram
One of the top three best web-wildlife photographers in the world, Sudhir Shivaram aims to spread his knowledge and expertise in photography with the world. He is India's Most Influential Award-Winning Photographer who offers online photography tutorials. This includes a special course that combines cutting-edge web technologies and exhaustive content, to offer a comprehensive online resource that is accessible on any device. Alongside, through his picture and campaigns around the world, he spreads awareness about wildlife and conservation especially among the youth.
6. Beverly Joubert
A film-maker and conservationist of great repute, Beverly Joubert along with her husband, Dereck, has been documenting African wildlife for more than 30 years. The couple has made films such as Eye of the Leopard and Big Cat Odyssey that have been lauded with seven Emmys! Last year, the Jouberts survived a deadly buffalo attack, that resulted in 4 serious operations. In spite of severe injuries, Joubert was keen to recover quick because of her involvement in Rhinos Without Borders, a campaign to move 100 rhinos from high risk to low risk areas. She doesn’t just capture animals through her lens, but seeks to protect them too.
7. Kalyan Varma
Founder of Asia's largest platform for upcoming wildlife photographers, Nature Watch, Kalyan Varma is India's ace wildlife photographer, filmmaker, naturalist and explorer. He shoots for National geographic, BBC World, Discovery Channel and even Netflix! He has also co-founded Asia's largest nature photography festival 'Nature InFocus'.
8. Bertie Gregory
Aged only 24, Bertie Gregort is a wildlife filmmaker, photographer and presenter who began his career by assisting Steve Winter on a Nat Geo assignment that was located in Africa. At 22, he was named the Scientific Exploration Society Zenith Explorer of the year and a National Geographic Young Explorer! He hosts the 'Wild Life' show on National Geographic and is currently working on two new seasons for the channel.
9. Marina Cano
Marina Cano is a Spanish wildlife photographer who picked up the camera in her teenage years and didn't stop clicking. She has authored three highly coveted Highly coveted? Use another word books that document her visions from Europe's largest wildlife park. She holds regular exhibitions all over the world, from Spain to London and Iceland to Korea. Marina Cano also serves as a brand ambassador for Canon, representing the field of nature and wildlife.
10. Sandesh Kadur
Sandesh Kadur is a photojournalist and documentary filmmaker whose work in National Geographic, Animal Planet and Discovery Channel has gained him great repute over the years. His work in Nat Geo Wild's Earth Live is special and a must-watch. A conservationist, Sandesh Kapur is currently in India, documenting the condition of Eastern Himalayas that are endangered.
11. Shekar Dattari
Shekar Dattari fell in love with wildlife when he was as young as 13. What was supposed to be just a summer internship, became the launchpad for his successful career as a wildlife documentary filmmaker. Co-founder of Conservation India, a portal that enables conservation action, he also directs advocacy films on conservation issues around the country. In alignment with the same ideology, he also works with various NGOs that work towards protecting wildlife and ecosystems.
12. Karen Lunny
She is a contemporary photography-artist who approaches the documentation of wildlife with a very fresh perspective. Through her work, she seeks to explore change and transition– a either use spaces on both sides of an en dash or neither state where something has ended but the other has not yet begun. She extends this metaphor to the environment and eco-systems that are threatened by an uncertain future in light of depletion, exploitation and global warming.
13. Frans Lanting
One of the greatest wildlife photographers of today's time, Frans Lanting has documented wildlife and nature right from Amazon to the Atlantic. Driven by his passion for the wonder that is our planet, Frans Lanting seeks to spread the love and enthusiasm that he feels for nature and our planet to the entire world. A prominent figure who is looked up to by an entire generation of wildlife photographers, Frans is said to have the mind of a scientists, heart of a hunter and eyes of a poet.
14. Art Wolfe
A conservationist and wildlife photographer, Art Wolfe is known for capturing nature in neon and bright, vibrant hues. He has authored more than 10 pertinent books on animals, photography and nature, and travels nine months a year, leading projects, tours and seminars that work towards the preservation of the earth. He has captured about 2 million pictures that have been lauded as legendary.
15. Paul Nicklen
A photographer, filmmaker and marine biologist, Paul Nicklen fights for the protection of ocean and marine-life. In 2006, Paul Nicklen experienced something beautiful when a female leopard seal showed him care by bringing him live and dead penguins. Today, he is co-founder of 'Sea Legacy' and a contributor to National Geographic magazine. His captures are breathtaking and show wildlife in its complete splendour.
So follow these photographers not just for the visual delight that they offer but also for the important causes that they all stand for. In an age where wildlife and nature are depleting at an alarming rate, it is time we uphold these activists and follow their footsteps.
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