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Michael Nichols    

Journalist, Photographer & Founder of the LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph

Michael “Nick” Nichols, a native of Alabama, is an award-winning photographer whose work has taken him to the most remote corners of the world. Born in 1952, Nichols’ training in photography began when he was drafted into the U.S. Army’s photography unit in the early 1970s. He later studied his craft at the University of North Alabama, where he met his mentor, former Life magazine photographer Charles Moore. He became a staff photographer for the National Geographic magazine in 1996 and was named Editor-at-Large in January 2008. From 1982 to 1995 he was a member of Magnum Photos, the prestigious cooperative founded by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa.

Early in his career, dubbed “The Indiana Jones of Photography” by Paris Match, Nichols was featured in Rolling Stone, Life, Aperture, American Photographer and many other magazines. He has won first prize four times for nature and environment stories in the World Press Photo competition. His other numerous awards come from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Pictures of the Year International competitions. In 1982 the Overseas Press Club of America granted him a prize for reporting “above and beyond the call of duty,” an honor usually reserved for combat photographers.

In Fall of 2013, Aperture published "Earth to Sky: Among Africa’s Elephants, a Species in Crisis." Nichols highlights the elephant crisis through poignant images that bring us directly into their habitats —lush forests and open savannas, or stark landscapes ravaged by human intervention — to observe the animals’ daily engagements and activities. In 2005, National Geographic Books published "The Last Place on Earth," a book featuring Nichols’ photographs and Mike Fay’s journals from the famous Megatransect expedition. Nichols’ work has appeared in several other books, including "Keepers of the Kingdom," a photographic essay reflecting on changes in U.S. zoos; "The Year of the Tiger," which focuses on the world’s remaining tigers; and "Brutal Kinship," a look at the timorous bond between man and chimpanzee, with text by Jane Goodall.

He has photographed over 26 stories for National Geographic magazine, including “The Short Happy Life of a Serengeti Lion," where he broke new ground in photographing wildlife using infrared, a robot controlled mini-tank for eye-level views, and a tiny electric helicopter. LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph featured this story at its 2013 Festival; and was also featured at The Visa Pour L’Image festival in Perpignan, France, at its 25th Anniversary 2013 festival. The December 2012 cover story of National Geographic magazine, “The World’s Largest Trees,” featured a 5-page foldout of a Giant Sequoia built from 126 images. The image of the 247 feet tall, 3,200 year-old tree was made during a California blizzard. This built upon the technique Nichols used in “Redwoods: The Super Trees," where he used innovative rigging techniques to create an 84 image composite of a 300-foot-tall, 1,500-year-old redwood tree.

At the heart of Nichols’ mission is to preserve true wildness. Whether in the redwood forests of California or the acacia plains of Kenya, it must be documented, nurtured and protected. Nichols is working to create images that show what we have to gain in caring for this magnificent planet and what we have to lose.

Speech Topics

Giving Voice: Using Photography and Media as Powerful Conservation Tools

In this presentation Nichols takes us on a historical journey through the many places, lives, and creatures his images have helped. He emphasizes that, for all the glory that comes with being published, what wakes him up in the morning is the ability to make a difference.

The Last Place on Earth: The Megatransect Expedition

Determined to document the vanishing riches of central Africa’s last undeveloped reaches, Nichols set out with ecologist J. Michael Fay on the Megatransect expedition, a grueling 456-day, 2,000-mile (3,200-kilometer) trek from Congo’s deepest forest to Gabon’s virgin shore. In this presentation Nichols shares his stunning images of wildlife and the expedition team and excerpts from Fay’s journals.


Nick Nichols's Arresting Intimacy with the Wild World | The New Yorker
The work of the wildlife photographer Michael (Nick) Nichols is widely admired for the intimacy he achieves with his animal subjects—an intimacy that allows the  ...
A new biography highlights the genre-bending wildlife photography of Michael ' Nick' Nichols.

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