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21 Most Influential Environmental Photographers to Follow in 2021

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Environmental photographers play a significant role in documenting our everyday life, our environment, and the changes in them.

If you like to keep up with what’s happening in our world, you should follow the work of environmental photographers.

Take a look at our list of 21 of the most influential people working today in the niche. You’ll see why it’s worth following them!

A picture of a natural environment of leaves in a women's palm.

What Is Environmental Photography?

Environmental photography deals with documenting and introducing our surroundings.

It’s often a tool for raising awareness of important environmental and conservation issues like climate change. This niche focuses on the relationship between nature and humans.

The focus can also be on social issues, addressing problems that affect communities.

Environmental photographers can be photojournalists, biologists, wildlife photographers, conservationists, and people with different professions concerned about their environment.

A documentary image of a rubber tyre on parched soil against an urban skyline

Who Are The Most Influential Environmental Photographers?

Let’s take a look at the work of our 21 favourite environmental photographers!

Paul Nicklen

Paul Nicklen is a Canadian photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist. He has received 30 of the highest photography awards in his field. He works for National Geographic as an assignment photographer. He is also famous for being a conservationist.

He and his partner, Cristina Mittermeier, founded SeaLegacy to change the narrative around the oceans and create emotional connections between people and the mysterious underwater wildlife. Paul has amazing underwater photographs. A professional diver, he captures terrestrial animals as well.

 

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Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is an American photographer who has been documenting wars, conflicts, ancient traditions, vanishing cultures, and contemporary cultures. He is famous for his vivid storytelling and powerful images. His work consists of photojournalism, environmental portraiture, documentary, and environmental photography. Humanity is the prime focus of his work.

He has drawn attention to several important events across the globe. He has received prestigious awards like the Robert Capa Gold Medal and four first prize awards from the World Press Photo contest. He was also inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame.

 

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A post shared by Steve McCurry (@stevemccurryofficial)

Keith Ladzinski

Keith Landinski is a Colorado-based, Emmy-nominated director and contributing photographer at the National Geographic Magazine. His environmental photography puts natural history and climate change in focus. He aims to document our ever-changing planet. Besides focusing on environmental issues, he has amazing photographs of extreme sports and famous advertising campaigns.

He is a founding member of the Sea Legacy Collective, and he has earned several awards and honours internationally. His work has been featured in more than 100 cover stories of different magazines, such as the New York Times.

 

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Cristina Mittermeier

Cristina Mittermeier is a Mexican-born photographer, marine biologist, writer, and conservationist. Cristina’s work has appeared in several publications like National Geographic and TIME.

She is the founder of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), which provides a platform for photographers working on environmental issues. She is a co-founder of SeaLegacy with Paul Nicklen. She also takes stunning environmental portraits of people living in distant tribes and empowers those who don’t have the chance to speak about their lives and their environmental problems.

 

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A post shared by Cristina Mittermeier (@mitty)

Ami Vitale

Ami Vitale is a National Geographic Magazine Photographer. She has visited more than 100 countries and always stays true to her belief in the importance of ‘living the story’. She is interested in different social and environmental issues. She has travelled extensively and lived in war zones.

Of late, her focus is more on the wildlife stories. The turning point was when she photographed one of the world’s last northern white rhinos being released into the wild. Since then, she raises awareness of environmental issues with her documentations. She has received several prestigious awards. Her work has been published and exhibited internationally.

 

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A post shared by Ami Vitale (@amivitale)

George Steinmetz

George is an American National Geographic and New York Times photographer with a curiosity for remote landscapes, climate change, and the ever-expanding food needs of humanity. He has travelled the world to explore different subjects and issues. He has completed several major photo essays and stories. His expeditions to the Sahara and Gobi deserts have been featured in National Geographic Explorer programmes.

George has won numerous awards. He also pilots a motorized paraglider that allows him to explore the world’s deserts and capture aerial photographs. Now he uses drones for this purpose as well.

 

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A post shared by George Steinmetz (@geosteinmetz)

Tim Laman

Tim Laman is a field biologist, wildlife photojournalist, and filmmaker. He got his PhD from Harvard for pioneering research in Borneo’s rainforest canopy. Since then, he focuses on telling stories of endangered wildlife. His most known projects are about birds-of-paradise and orangutans.

He has been working all around the world,  documenting even the most remote corners of it.  He has published several feature stories in National Geographic magazine and worked on films with Netflix and BBC. He has won numerous incredibly prestigious awards. His work is featured and exhibited internationally.

 

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Tim Laman (@timlaman) által megosztott bejegyzés

Brian Skerry

Brian Skerry is a photojournalist specialising in marine wildlife and underwater environments.

His beautiful images show us the struggles marine and ocean creatures face every day and the adverse impact of globalisation on animals. Brian has an incredible series of eye-opening images, such as Harp Seals struggling to survive in frozen waters and the realities of global fisheries.

He is a contract photographer for National Geographic and has received fellowship titles as well. He was recognised as the ‘Rolex National photographer of the Year’.

Brian has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award an impressive 11 times!

 

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A post shared by Brian Skerry (@brianskerry)

Aaron Huey

Aaron Huey is a photographer working for National Geographic. He has created more than 30 stories for the magazine, with several cover stories among them. He is the founder and chief creative of Amplifier.org, a nonprofit design lab that uses art and media experiments to amplify our world’s important movements.

He created several movements, such as the global art phenomenon called ‘We The People’ and then, ‘We The Future’. He also raised a lot of money through the ‘Sherpa Photo Found‘ and directed the ‘RESET Capitalism’ campaign, to only mention a few. As evident, Aaron stands behind many important movements and uses his art and works to raise awareness.

 

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Beverly Joubert

Beverly Joubert has specialized in African wildlife photography for over 30 years. She is a fellow of the International League of Conversation photographers.

As well as being a wildlife photographer, she is also a wildlife film producer.

Beverly works with husband Derek to bring awareness to wildlife conversation projects. They are the founders of the Big Cats Initiative with National Geographic. Their organisation ‘Project Ranger’ is devoted to preventing illegal poaching in Africa. They have received 8 Emmys for their filmmaking.

 

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A post shared by Beverly Joubert (@beverlyjoubert)

Daisy Gilardini

Daisy Gilardini is a Canada-based conservation photographer from Switzerland. She specialises in the Polar regions. Her photos are mainly of the Antarctic wildlife and North American Bears. She has visited more than 70 countries and joined over 80 expeditions to Antarctica.

Daisy’s work has received prestigious awards internationally, including BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year. She is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), SeaLegacy, and the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. She focuses on conservation and the importance of preserving what’s left of nature.

 

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A post shared by Daisy Gilardini (@daisygilardini)

Michael Yamashita

Michael Yamashita combines his passion for photography and travel. He has been a National Geographic Photographer for over 30 years. Asia became his special photographic area after spending seven years there. He retraces the paths of famous travellers like Marco Polo.

Michael is a lecturer and teacher at schools, holds his own workshops, and is a keynote speaker for foundations and corporations. He has received numerous awards. His work has been exhibited all around the globe. He has published eleven books. He is a great storyteller who uses his work to document the history and the world we live in.

 

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Jasper Doest

Jasper Doest is a Dutch photographer with a major in ecology. His work aims to bridge the gap between society and nature.

He has a playful aesthetic approach to this serious mission. His photographic series often features portraits of animals in urban areas. These photos beg the question: is it the animal who is the intruder, or is it us?

Jasper has received numerous awards for his work, including World Press Photo and Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He has also contributed to National Geographic and GEO magazine.

 

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Melissa Groo

Melissa Groo is a wildlife photographer, writer, and conservationist. Her goal is to educate people about the natural world and build a connection between them. She does that by raising awareness on the importance and uniqueness of living creatures.

She also focuses on the ethics of wildlife photography. She has advised countless organizations on ethical practices. She and Kenn Kaufman created the National Audubon Society’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography. Melissa is also an Associate Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers. Her work has been published, featured, awarded, and exhibited internationally.

 

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Melissa Groo (@melissagroo) által megosztott bejegyzés

Peter Essick

Peter Essick is a photographer, author, speaker, instructor, and drone pilot specialising in nature and environmental themes. His goal is to document the world and show the human impact of development and the power of the lands. He has published books and held solo exhibitions as well. Also, his work was published in magazines and curated in both, public and private collections.

He was named one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world by Outdoor Photography Magazine. His stories on environmental issues appeared several times in the National Geographic Magazine. These stories speak about climate change, high-tech trash, and freshwater.

 

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A post shared by Peter Essick (@peteressick)

Esther Horvath

Esther Horvath is a Hungarian photographer. She is a fellow at the International League of Conservation Photographers, a member of The Photo Society, and a science photographer for Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. In 2020, she received the 1st price in the Environmental single category of the World Press Photo Award.

Esther’s photographic work is dedicated to the polar regions, especially the Arctic Ocean. She documents scientific expeditions. These expeditions are for understanding the changes in these regions of our world. She aims to raise awareness of these environments and build a bridge between the world and the scientists’ work.

 

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A post shared by Esther Horvath (@estherhorvath)

Nichole Sobecki

Nichole Sobecki is a photographer, filmmaker, and speaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work has been awarded and exhibited internationally. The main focus of her work is humanity’s connection to the natural world. For instance, her project titled ‘A Climate for Conflict’ investigates the consequences of environmental changes in Somalia.

She believes that telling a story can deepen empathy and inspire people to be more conscious. She is also a contributor to Everyday Africa, which attempts to showcase the moments that are missing from the news. It’s a collection of smartphone photographs of the everyday life of Africans.

 

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A post shared by Nichole Sobecki (@nicholesobecki)

Sam Gregg

Sam Gregg is a self-taught documentary and portrait photographer from London. His work has been featured several times online and in print as well. He participates in many different exhibitions worldwide. He plays an important role in drawing attention to contemporary issues regarding the society we live in.

Sam is interested in marginalised communities. Through his work, he gives a voice to the people on the peripheries. These communities are usually deliberately misrepresented or hidden away. He works against stereotypes while staying honest about social structures and their representation in the media.

 

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A post shared by Sam Gregg (@samalexandergregg)

Antonio Busiello

Antonio Busiello is an Italian photographer known for focusing on the relationship between humans and the natural world surrounding them. While studying anthropology, his interest in cultural differences deepened. He has worked and lived in different countries around the world.

His images won him prestigious awards, such as the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year. You can find his work in numerous magazines as well. He has numerous photo essays which combine his interest in humankind and the natural world. His work was also chosen to be exhibited at the CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition.

 

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A post shared by Antonio Busiello (@anbusiello)

Matilde Gattoni

Matilde Gattoni is a French-Italian photographer based in Barcelona. Her work raises global awareness of social, environmental, and human rights issues. She mostly covers stories from Asia and Africa. Her topics are diverse—mass migrations, illegal mining, droughts, and climate change.

Her stories have been published in more than a hundred magazines all around the globe. She received several awards, and her work has been exhibited worldwide. She and journalist Matteo Fagotto founded Tandem Reportages, an agency that produces independent stories. They focus on contemporary issues such as the relationship between humans and our environment.

 

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A post shared by Matilde Gattoni (@matildegattoni)

Sean Gallagher

Sean Gallagher is a British filmmaker and photographer based in Asia. He has a degree in zoology, and this is what connected him to environmental issues. He works on creating photography and documentary film projects to raise awareness of the climate crisis and other under-reported environmental problems.

His images are part of the National Geographic Image Collection. He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Geographical Society. He has a list of stories he wants to cover during the next few years—all of them about biodiversity loss or climate change. His partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting helps make his stories heard.

Conclusion

As you can see, environmental photography is a diverse niche covering many topics. What they have in common is drawing attention to the issues our world has to face every day.

Do you agree with our list? Drop us a comment with your favourite environmental photographers under this post!

We are always on the lookout for exciting new environmental photographers. If you are an environmental photographer, and you feel like you should be considered for this list, make sure to drop us an email at emma@expertphotography.com with your bio, website, and Instagram link!

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