Famous Wildlife Photographers

Famous Wildlife Photographers – Framing Nature’s Majesty

Being a successful animal photographer is not always an easy task. Traveling to remote places and waiting for the perfect moment to take a photo can be expensive and time-consuming. Wildlife behavior cannot be predicted and an ideal shot can present itself at any moment. Below, we will introduce you to some of the most famous wildlife photographers worth checking out.



Introducing the Most Famous Wildlife Photographers of Our Time

Animal photographers not only capture intriguing images but also manage to convey a story. Some manage to capture the more intimate and quiet moments of nature, while others capture an exciting moment of action.

Here is our list of our favorite famous wildlife photographers.


Thomas D. Mangelsen (1946 – Present)

Photographer NameThomas D. Mangelsen
Date of Birth6 January 1946
Place of BirthGrand Island, Nebraska, United States

Thomas D. Mangelsen’s photographs are prized among collectors of fine art for their breathtaking depictions of natural landscapes and wildlife. He is renowned for his efforts to advocate for the protection of endangered species, driven by his strong conservation ethic. He believes that these species, even the smallest, are a gauge of the health of the planet and, like humans, are the result of eons of evolution. If one becomes extinct, a whole species’ food supply may be lost.

We are all intertwined in nature, depending on one another for reasons we might not yet be able to comprehend.

He has been honored with multiple conservation awards, lectured in front of big crowds, and been featured on television and radio programs, as well as being named “Conservation Photographer of the Year” by Nature’s Best Photography. This famous animal photographer’s imagery of the polar bears in the Arctic has received praise for drawing attention to the worsening effects of climate change.

His photographs of tigers in India’s jungles, as well as his recent projects on elephants and rhinos in Africa, have been recognized for raising awareness about the risks of extinction that these great animals face. He is regarded as one of the best at capturing the ideal dramatic moment in his photography. He refuses to alter his photographs digitally and is adamantly opposed to taking photos of game farm “animal models”.


Frans Lanting (1951 – Present)

Photographer NameFrans Lanting
Date of Birth13 July 1951
Place of BirthRotterdam, Netherlands

The Dutch photographer Frans Lanting is often regarded among the best animal photographers of the modern era and his images can be found in magazines, books, and exhibitions across the world. He has photographed fauna and flora alike over the last 20 years, in addition to the relationship between the natural world and humans from the Amazon to Antarctica. Lanting was born in the Netherlands but subsequently moved to America. He now runs a studio and gallery in Santa Cruz.

The Dutch photographer’s images have been featured in Stern, Outdoor Photographer, Airone, Life, and Audubon, as well as National Geographic which he currently works for.

He immerses himself in the lives of animals such as elephants, lions, albatrosses, and penguins on an emotional, physical, and intellectual level. He captures photographs that reveal rarely-seen aspects of nature. His photography has been recognized for raising public awareness of environmental issues and, in some cases, serving as a catalyst for government initiatives to find solutions.

What Is an Animal PhotographerPortrait of Frans Lanting; Frans Lanting Studio, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

He once stated in an interview that advances in photographic technology mean nothing if there is no wildlife left to take photos of. The goal of his work is to encourage understanding of the Earth using photos that express a love of nature and reverence for our environment. Lansing and his wife and business partner, Chris Eckstrom, have been involved in regulating land use in order to avoid urban development and to keep the coastline pristine. 


Michael Nichols (1952 – Present)

Photographer NameMichael Nichols
Date of Birthc. 1952
Place of BirthMuscle Shoals, Alabama, United States

Michael Nichols has been a contributor to National Geographic for quite a while now, with his photographs having been featured in 27 articles of this famous publication. He is most known for his expert application of technology in obtaining some of the greatest photographs of wildlife, enabling him to document animal behavior from previously unseen points of view. Nichols’ photography has appeared in popular publications such as Life, American Photographer, and Rolling Stone.

He has spent the majority of his photographic career capturing animals in the Central African Republic and Gabon’s national parks.

Nichols puts a spotlight on the elephant crises using emotive imagery that takes us right into the elephants’ natural habitats – expansive savannas and lush forests, or grim landscapes destroyed by humans to observe these elephants’ everyday lives and activities. The preservation of the wilderness is at the heart of Nichols’ mission.

He feels that it should be documented, fostered, and protected, whether it’s Kenya’s acacia plains or California’s redwood forests. He makes a conscious effort to take photos that highlight what we stand to gain and lose by caring for our beautiful world. Nichols also founded the LOOK3 Festival, an annual three-day festival of love, peace, and photography that features interviews, exhibits, projections, and workshops by both emerging and professional photographers.


Tim Laman (1961 – Present)

Photographer NameTim Laman
Date of Birthc. 1961
Place of BirthTokyo, Japan

Growing up in Japan inspired the famous wildlife photographer and field biologist to want to get into wildlife photography. Tim Laman’s cameras have been his instruments for conveying the stories of rare and endangered animals and exposing some of the world’s wildest areas since he received his Ph.D. from Harvard for his groundbreaking research in Borneo’s rainforest canopy. He has taken wildlife photos on all seven continents and regularly travels to some of the world’s most isolated corners to seek out and document species that we don’t know much about.

He spends many months a year on excursions in brutal environments, studying and photographing the biodiversity of the world’s most diverse and rich realms.

He is most recognized for his extensive research and photography of orangutans and birds of paradise. National Geographic has featured his photographs in 23 different articles. Many of his photographs have won wildlife awards all across the world, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2016.

started shooting scenes for natural history documentary films, expanding on his work in still photography, and served as a cinematographer for a number of projects. He has guided excursions in distant parts of the world, including Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, Botswana, South Georgia, and Rwanda.


Nick Brandt (1964 – Present)

Photographer NameNick Brandt
Date of Birthc. 1964
Place of BirthLondon, United Kingdom

Nick Brandt is an English photographer whose work is primarily concerned with the quickly disappearing natural world as a consequence of climate change, environmental degradation, and human activities. He now lives in the Southern California mountains after spending nearly 20 years documenting African animals and once-natural landscapes ravaged by human development. After taking photos of African elephants and discovering more about poaching, he co-founded the Big Life Foundation, which preserves the wildlife and ecosystems of Tanzania and Kenya.

Multiple fully equipped groups of anti-poaching rangers have been deployed in newly constructed outposts in critical regions throughout the 8,100 km2 + area in Kenya, leading to a significantly decreased incidence of wildlife hunting and poaching in the ecosystem.

 This Empty World (2019), the artist’s most recent project, concerns the rising devastation of the natural world, working in color and lighting built sets for the very first time to produce aesthetically complex tableaux. His photos have been shown in solo exhibits across the globe, including the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow, Fotografiska in Stockholm, and the National Museum of Finland in Helsinki.

In 2016’s Inherit the Dust, he documented the impact of humans in locations where animals formerly roamed but don’t anymore in a sequence of panoramas. He created a life-size panel of one of his previously unseen animal portrait images in each area, portraying the displaced wildlife in locations of intensified urban expansion, wastelands, new factories, and quarries.


Britta Jaschinski (1965 – Present)

Photographer NameBritta Jaschinski
Date of BirthNovember 1965
Place of BirthBremen, Germany

Britta Jaschinski is a German wildlife photographer based in London. Her photos depict animals that have been exploited by many different industries, including the beauty and pharmaceutical industries. She was born in 1965 in Bremen, Germany, and migrated to the U.K. in the 1990s. She then established a successful career in photojournalism. She addresses animal exploitation in a wide range of contexts, ranging from international pet smuggling syndicates to illicit hunting throughout the world.

She documented the global animal wildlife smuggling industry through trips to airports and shipping ports in a recent photographic project called CRIMES.

She has been regarded as a brave and inspiring animal photographer, as well as a warrior who uses her lens as a weapon in the struggle to regain our respect for animals. Jaschinski is additionally a co-founder of Photographers Against Wildlife Crime, a global coalition of award-winning photographers who have come together to utilize their intriguing and iconic photos to help put a stop to the illegal wildlife trade.


Cristina Mittermeier (1966 – Present)

Photographer NameCristina Mittermeier
Date of Birth26 November 1966
Place of BirthMexico City, Mexico

Cristina Mittermeier was born in 1966 in Mexico City and raised in Cuernavaca. She has devoted her whole life to defending the world’s seas and has been acknowledged as one of the most prominent conservation photographers of our day. She started her career with Conservation International Mexico, where she developed an overwhelming sense of duty for conservation and also where she first met Russell Mittermeier, her now-former husband. It was also at this time that she was given her first camera as a gift.

Mittermeier formed a non-profit organization comprised of photographers from across the world called ILCP, with the objective of making use of photography as a tool to advance environmental and conservation initiatives globally.

She was awarded the Seattle Aquarium Sylvia Earle Medal in 2021 in appreciation of her 30 years of brave journalism and creating imagery that conveys the stories of our planet. She co-founded SeaLegacy, an NGO committed to ocean conservation, in 2014. This initiative serves as an international collective of storytellers who employ their media, art, and communications skills to inspire a community dedicated to restoring the abundance and cleanliness of the ocean.


Paul Nicklen (1968 – Present)

Photographer NamePaul Nicklen
Date of Birth21 July 1968
Place of BirthTisdale, Saskatchewan, Canada

Paul Nicklen is a filmmaker, photographer, and marine scientist from Canada who has spent over 20 years documenting both the plight and beauty of our world. Nicklen worked hard to develop a style of documentary photography that both informs and builds a bond with animals that live in harsh environments. His photography transports viewers to a rarely seen underwater world. His evocative and sensitive photographs have secured him over 30 of the most prestigious honors awarded to any photographer in his field, and he is also well-known in the conservation world for his efforts.

He was recently awarded an honorary PhD by the University of Victoria for the profound impact his photographic work has had on bringing light to climate change.

Nicklen is a highly reputed author, lecturer, and National Geographic Fellow, as well as one of the world’s most famous wildlife photographers, and has shared stories from his exploits in multiple TED Talks. He has worked with filmmakers, scientists, environmentalists, and adventurers over the last 20 years to raise exposure and motivate action on global issues such as climate change.

Animal PhotographerPaul Nicklen; Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As a co-founder of SeaLegacy, he is writing a new, forward-thinking chapter in the history of ocean conservation. Co-founded along with Cristina Mittermeier, the famous wildlife photographer featured above, Sea Legacy aims to encourage millions of people to stand up and speak out for the wonderful locations endangered by climate change using visual storytelling.


Ami Vitale (1971 – Present)

Photographer NameAmi Vitale
Date of Birthc. 1971
Place of BirthNot stated

Ami Vitale is a renowned filmmaker and photographer currently working for National Geographic Explorer. She has visited over 100 countries, documenting the catastrophic realities associated with war and the uplifting resilience of individuals trying to make a difference. In order to accurately document certain events, she has lived in mud huts deep within war zones. Vitale turned her attention to today’s most engaging animal and environmental issues in 2009, after filming a moving story about the transfer and release of one of the world’s remaining northern white rhinos.

She even wore a panda suit in order to capture certain wildlife photos!

Vitale’s award-winning photography shines a light on the overlooked individuals and communities working to conserve wildlife and establish harmony in our natural environment. She is also the executive director and producer of Vital Impacts, an NGO led by women that supports humanitarian initiatives across the world.

Examples of Animal PhotographerAmi Vitale at World Press Photo Festival 2018; Guido van Nispen, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This initiative raised more than $2 million for local conservation projects during its first year and established a global grant and mentorship program to help future generations of environmental storytellers. She also helped found Ripple Effect Images, a group of female authors, scientists, photographers, and filmmakers that collaborate to produce strong and convincing tales that shed light on the difficulties that women in developing nations deal with.


Charlie Hamilton James (1973 – Present)

Photographer NameCharlie Hamilton James
Date of BirthJuly 1973
Place of BirthNot stated

Charlie Hamilton James is a wildlife photographer, presenter, and television cinematographer from England. He began his career at the age of 16 working for David Attenborough. James started taking photographs of kingfishers at his U.K. home and is now an established National Geographic photographer who has dedicated his life to producing famous photos for the magazine. On his 13th birthday, James received his first camera. He’d been sitting in his hide for years, watching kingfishers, Yet, he soon realized that watching wasn’t enough and that he wanted to also photograph them.

Photography was a way for the young boy to channel his passion in a new direction. His photographs are usually taken using handmade equipment that he has built or modified personally. During his career, he has taken photographs of everything from rats roaming around large city streets throughout the world to Amazonian tribes that have never had contact with the outside world. He also shoots natural history content for companies such as the BBC when he is not photographing in the field. He has received several honors, including two National Television Society awards, as well as has been nominated for both an Emmy and a BAFTA.


Will Burrard-Lucas (1983 – Present)

Photographer NameWill Burrard-Lucas
Date of Birth2 September 1983
Place of BirthUnited Kingdom

Will Burrard-Lucas is a British wildlife photographer noted for inventing technologies such as camera traps that allow him to capture images of wildlife up close. He was born in the United Kingdom and spent some of his boyhood in Tanzania, where he developed a keen interest in animals and the environment. Since 2010, he has worked as a full-time wildlife photographer. In 2009, he invented a remote-control camera buggy called BeetleCam that he used to capture close-up images of lions, elephants, and buffalo in Tanzania. He returned to Africa in 2011 to take photos of Kenyan lions.

He has subsequently photographed animals in several African nations, including Zambian leopards and Zimbabwean wild dogs, using his trusty BeetleCam.

He also created high-quality camera traps for capturing nocturnal and rare species while living in Zambia from 2012 to 2013. His efforts to capture wildlife with camera traps led to a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund in 2015 for photographing elusive Namibian animals. He began working with Kenya’s Tsavo Trust in 2017 to document the remaining “Big Tusker” Tsavo elephants. He took the first high-quality camera trap photos of a melanistic African leopard in Kenya in 2019. Only one such example of the species had previously been photographed in Africa.


That concludes our list of famous wildlife photographers known for their inspiring and educational works. Not only have these animal photographers managed to capture striking moments in nature, but also succeeded in imparting a message about the importance of wildlife and environmental protection. Most of these photographers are also involved in various initiatives that involve educating people about the plight of threatened species and environments suffering from the destructive ways of human activity.




Frequently Asked Questions


What Do Wildlife Photographers Do?

Wildlife photographers are experts who specialize in capturing animals in their natural environments. Their main objective is to portray the beauty and behavior of wildlife. These animal photographers start their work by researching the wildlife and locations they intend to take photos of. To gain a better understanding of their subjects, they examine their target species’ behavior, environment, and ecology. They spend a significant amount of time in the field, waiting for the right time to capture the perfect photograph. Many of them are also involved in various projects which aim to place a spotlight on the many places where human activity has resulted in a loss of habitats and animals. Their work serves to educate people around the world about the effects of climate change.


Who Are the Most Famous Wildlife Photographers?

Many people have been drawn to taking photos of wildlife. Yet, there are a few names that emerge as the most renowned wildlife photographers. Some of the most famous names in this field include Thomas D. Mangelsen, Frans Lanting, Michael Nichols, Tim Laman, Nick Brandt, Britta Jaschinski, Cristina Mittermeier, Paul Nicklen, Ami Vitale, Charlie Hamilton James, and Will Burrard-Lucas.


Cite this Article

Jordan, Anthony, “Famous Wildlife Photographers – Framing Nature’s Majesty.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. November 9, 2023. URL: https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-wildlife-photographers/

Anthony, J. (2023, 9 November). Famous Wildlife Photographers – Framing Nature’s Majesty. artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source. https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-wildlife-photographers/

Anthony, Jordan. “Famous Wildlife Photographers – Framing Nature’s Majesty.” artfilemagazine – Your Online Art Source, November 9, 2023. https://artfilemagazine.com/famous-wildlife-photographers/.

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