famous nature photographers

Who are the most famous nature photographers that you can learn from? It's a great topic for you, even if you're not a nature geek like me.

There are many candidates and it is challenging to compare nature photographers from different eras. This post includes a sampling of both past and present well known nature photographers.

The technological advances that have come with the advent of digital photography has leveled the playing field, and post-capture editing has exploded the possibilities of enhancing the final resulting images.

1. Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams - Most famous Nature PhotographerAnsel Adams

Admittedly I'm biased because Ansel Adams is the nature photographer that inspired me to drop out of chemical engineering school and change my studies to become a pro photographer. His autobiography was released right after I graduated from photography school.

How can you learn from Ansel him? You can view stunning examples of his nature photography here: Ansel Adams Gallery. Although he shot exclusively with film, he was a master manipulator in the darkroom. Ansel, along with Fred Archer, developed the Zone System. The Zone System was a sophisticated method of controlling the exposure and development of film negatives as well as strategic dodging and burning in of prints in the darkroom.

You can get similar results with a variety of software applications like Lightroom, PhotoShop and others. If you shoot in raw mode, you can experiment and edit as many times as you want starting with the original raw file. If you want to improve your black and white photography, finding inspiration in a master photographer like Ansel Adams is a great place to start.

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ~Ansel Adams

One could easily argue that Ansel Adams is the nature photographer that is the most well known of all (certainly in the USA), but perhaps not so much with the younger crowd. Ansel likely added more to the awareness in the beauty of nature to the common person than any other photographer in history. 

Ansel Adams Mt. WilliamsonHold Cursor over photo for info

His work was the major reason I became interested in photography as a young boy, inspired me to visit and photograph his famous stomping ground, Yosemite National Park, and choose photography as a career instead of a lucrative career as a chemical engineer.

Honorable mention, in the same area, before easier travel and photographic technologies came about goes to William Henry Jackson and his black and white photography of the west. The hardships and perseverance involved in traveling and transporting bulky photography equipment in a relatively uncivilized environment. Just reading a little bit about Mr. Jackson and his photography will help you appreciate how amazingly great are the photography tools we now have available.


2. David Muench

I first became aware of David Muench from the advertisements for his workshops in the back of my "Outdoor Photographer" magazines. I did further research and found out how prolific he has been as the primary photographer in over 60 photography books.

We all develop a natural affection to a specific genre of nature photography and, like David Muench, I am fascinated by the diversity and opportunity of photographing rock landscapes. You can find many of Mr. Muench's inspirational work here: David Muench Photography.

Here's a video of the 83 year young master landscape and nature photographer David Muench talking about "the timeless moment." Videos like this help you get inside the head of master photographers who've practicing the art of photography for most of their entire life.

We all develop a natural affection to a specific genre of nature photography and, like David Muench, I am fascinated by the diversity and opportunity of photographing rock landscapes. You can find many of Mr. Muench's inspirational work here: David Muench Photography.


3. Tony Sweet

Photographer Tony SweetTony Sweet


Tony Sweet.  Tony got his start in the creative field of jazz drummer, I've attended two of his photography workshops and was very pleased with the photographs I've made as a result of the information he presented.

Lately Tony has been exploring Infrared black and white nature photography and his images are jaw dropping. Tony emphasizes that your success rates goes way up if you plan the specific location and exact timing of your images.

His images have been published internationally. My inspiration comes from his uncanny ability to create emotional images using simple compositions. Here's an article on composition in nature that uses a few rather unusual subjects as examples.


6. David Duchemin

David Duchemin photographerDavid DuChemin

David is more than just a nature photographer, but I've included him in this article as one of the famous nature photographers because he is so powerfully inspirational. Although difficult for me to read-I'm a bit infused with attention deficit disorder-his "A Beautiful Anarchy" is a great read for those involved in the creative art of photography.

David's website, DavidDuChemin.com, describes himself as a humanitarian photographer and this quote from his website shares his mission: "I want to see this world for the astonishing place it is, and help others do the same." - David DuChemin. David is quite the nomadic traveling photographer and writer and is a very prolific image maker.


“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~Albert Einstein

7. art wolfe



In the more modern era of color photography, I think Art Wolfe is at the top of the list of famous nature and wildlife photographers.  

Art was highly educated and talented as an artist before even entering the world of photography and his sense of design and composition is both remarkable and inspirational.

I look to Art Wolfe's books to learn about composition techniques and have purchased his video series on CreativeLive.

Nature Photographer: Art WolfeArt Wolfe

8. ian plant

Ian Plant Photography. I find his images of wildlife and landscapes to be simply stunning. He's a world renown traveling photographer that left his career as a lawyer to follow the light. Ian shoots a lot of long exposures with his nature photographs. One of his missions is to inspire and educate others about the art of photography.

Ian has a line of education photography books which are offered from the website at shuttermonkeys.com.


9. Thomas heaton

Thomas Heaton photographerThomas Heaton

The story behind how I found out about nature photographer Thomas Heaton has an amusing story behind it. I've attended a local workshop less than an hour away in nearby Wilmington DE and was inspired by a local photographer Ed Heaton and his message about following your passion of photography. 

I mistakenly started following Thomas Heaton when researching the photography of Ed Heaton.  Thomas is a UK cahp and you can visit his website is here Thomas Heaton Photography. I got inspired from watching his Youtube videos on nature photography.

Thomas has been shooting nature photos since he was 16 years old.


10. not so famous nature photographer - Bruce Lovelace

No, I'm not a famous nature photographer yet, but I'm working on it. The photo below was inspired by the photography of Tony Sweet, mentioned earlier in this post. I've been drawn toward looking for simplicity in some of my nature photographs, particularly landscapes. To achieve such a long exposure during the day, I used a neutral density filter.

inspired seascape by Bruce LovelaceSimple Seascape - 30 second exposure

I love the subtle colors that the skies present to me just after sunset. In the seascape image above, I used a loose interpretation of the rule of thirds to create a balanced composition. 

It's my hope that this short but potent list of famous nature photographers will help inspire you with your nature photos. I encourage you to take advantage of what they offer. You only live once. You can see some more "famous" nature photographs from some of my travels here:  Inspirational Nature images.

Seriously, I really don't have any intention of being a famous photographer, but let's face it, we'd all like to have more time to play around with nature and landscape photography. And, at least a little recognition always makes us feel good as photographers. Feel free to leave your comment below.


Keep shooting. Keep learning. Keep improving.




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