Photography is truly the penultimate artform of the digital age.
To be able to make a picture speak a thousand words is a skill that takes a lot of time and patience, and even more so in the case of wildlife photography. The thrilling life and times of a wildlife photographer is evident from the barrage of breathtaking animal, nature and landscape photographs we’re exposed to these days.
Being a wildlife photographer is definitely not easy. Not only do you have to carry around heavy equipment waiting for the perfect shot in extreme conditions, but you also end up putting your life at risk while scoping out wild animals in their natural habitats. If you’re interested in wildlife photography, here are some of the best and most famous wildlife photographers whose work you should definitely seek inspiration from!
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1. David Yarrow
As far as famous wildlife photographers are concerned, David Yarrow’s name usually ranks among the top. Be it leaping lions, resplendent elephants against African skies, a wolf walking along a bar top, or humans communicating with wild animals, Yarrow’s wildlife photography has it all.
The career that began with sports photography slowly transitioned into wildlife photography with his monochromatic pictures earning him acclaim worldwide. Yarrow had taken a photograph in 2015 titled “Mankind” that sold for £60,000 in London in the year 2017. In 2017 alone, his photographs raised a whopping $1.2 million for charity.
2. Frans Lanting
In a career spanning over three decades, Lanting has been known to capture animals with his unique perspective. Being an empathetic animal photographer, he made the world view these creatures in a different light.
In 2018, he was even awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Wildlife Photographer of the Year, a platform that conducts the biggest wildlife photography competition in the world. Having been a Photographer-in-Residence at National Geographic, this famous wildlife photographer has spent months and months among seabirds, lions, and tortoises just to find those iconic shots.
His collections include photo essays based on Antarctica’s emperor penguins, Borneo’s rainforest ecology, and the North Atlantic’s puffins.
3. Art Wolfe
Having been in the industry for forty years, Art Wolfe is one of the most celebrated and famous wildlife photographers of all time. Capturing the beauty of wildlife from every possible continent, Wolfe has given several exhibitions, seminars, and presentations regarding his work and the world of nature photography and wildlife photography in general.
He has always possessed an inherent curiosity towards nature, evident in his impressive body of work, ranging from the vivid sights at the Pushkar Camel Fair to the captivating stills of polar bears in the Arctic end of the world.
4. Thomas Mangelsen
The fact that Thomas Mangelsen is one of the most famous wildlife photographers is evident from the numerous accolades he has received for his work over the past 40 years. This includes the Conservation Photographer of the Year from Nature’s Best Photography in 2011, Outdoor Photography naming him as one of the 40 Most Influential Nature Photographers, American Photo magazine placing him among the 100 Most Important People in Photography, getting the title of Outstanding Nature Photographer of the Year from the North American Nature Photography Association, and also being bestowed with the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
His work has taken him to the farthest corners of places such as Africa and North America.
Oh – and he once spent 2 to 14 hours a day for 42 whole days standing in the same spot waiting to get the perfect shot of a rare wild female cougar.
5. David Lloyd
It was in March 2015 when David Lloyd captured the photo that would win the hearts of wildlife photography lovers all over the world. Titled ‘Bond of Brothers’, the shot is that of two lions gently touching their foreheads together with their eyes closed. This extremely tender moment went on to win the LUMIX People’s Choice Award by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year in 2019.
Lloyd had been noting down the winners ever since the inauguration of the award in 1991, and 2019 finally made his dream come true through this heartbreakingly stunning photo. The internationally famous wildlife photographer captures animals in their natural habitats while attempting to promote the cause of their right to dwell in peace.
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6. Mark Drury
Developing a love for nature and wildlife photography at the tender age of 10, Mark Drury’s predilection towards animals was fueled even more after his trip to Kenya at a very young age. Past that, there was absolutely no looking back. This famous wildlife photographer has been documenting the majestic wildlife of Africa for years now. He has also been an active participant in the preservation and conservation of wildlife and nature.
7. Harman Heer
In 2018, there were two Indians who made it to the list of Discovery’s ‘most liked photos’, and one of them was Harman Heer. His shot of a Cheetah’s reflection won millions of hearts all over the world. An acclaimed international photographer, this young boy already has a huge following on social media, and his documented safari adventures are sure to leave anyone awestruck.
8. Carole Deschuymere
It was in 2003 during her first trip to South Africa when Carole Deschuymere first fell in love with nature and wildlife. She kept going back there till one day she decided that this is where she felt the most at home, and decided to stay. In 2010, she traveled to Botswana and eventually met a South African guide who taught her everything about how to spot the animals, how to interpret their behavior, how to behave around them and the like.
Shortly after she started taking photos, and continued doing so till she perfected the craft. She would keep editing the photos until she felt that they were worthy of the ambiance they were capturing. Later on, she was contacted by Africa Geographic who wanted her to accompany photography trips. She got to teach people how to take photographs and edit them, and that’s where she discovered an immense joy. Today, she organizes her own wildlife safaris in order to share the deep love that she has for Africa and wildlife photography.
9. Will Burrard-Lucas
British photographer, Will Burrard-Lucas, loves wildlife photography in all its forms but maintains that African wildlife is his favorite backdrop.
This passion for Africa and its wildlife started right from his childhood, as he spent a part of his growing years in Tanzania. It was in 2009 when Will Burrard-Lucas realized that the equipment needed to bring his vision to fruition doesn’t exist. That’s when he decided to develop his own devices in order to capture the wild, beautiful creatures in their best form. He created BeetleCam, which is a remote-control buggy that he uses for his DSLR.
In addition to that, he developed his own DSLR camera trap system to take shots of nocturnal and shy animals.
Will is also associated with numerous conservation organizations that fight for the preservation of endangered wildlife species, and he contributes to them through his pieces that help raise a tremendous amount of money for charity. His videos and social media activities constantly attempt to create awareness regarding the current situation of the global wildlife scenario and how we must all do our bit to save the animals.
10. Jason Clendenen
Although Jason Clendenen arrived in the field of wildlife photography just five years ago, he’s already created a niche for himself and is regarded as a very unique wildlife photographer. Starting off as a teacher of Science and Mathematics, Clendenen’s life took him to a whole different path when he started traveling abroad. That’s when he realized his deep love for wildlife photography.
His journeys through Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America led to the creation of some of his best work, and now he happily resides in Africa, breathing in the rich experiences. Be it waiting for two hours just to take a photograph of a lion beginning his chase, capturing a shot of a leopard in the middle of tall grass, focusing on a gorgeous peacock while making it seem as if the creature is staring right into your soul, or the close-up shot of a beautiful, white horse, his images are a true treat to the eyes.
The amount and diversity of flora and fauna we’re blessed with are inexplicable. It’s not always possible to travel to the corners of the world to view the rich wildlife in all its glory, and that’s where wildlife photography steps in. These famous wildlife photographers have treated us numerous glimpses of their passion and adventures for years through the eclectic shots taken using their creative vision, allowing us to take in the magnificence of the creatures that inhabit our Mother Earth. So if you want to lose yourself in the maze of the beauty of wildlife, hopefully, this list of famous wildlife photographers gives you a great place to start.