Photo: Wolf looking out from behind a tree

Photograph by Jim Brandenburg

Photo: Photographer Jim Brandenburg

Photograph by Joel Sartore

Minnesota native Jim Brandenburg traveled the globe as a photographer with National Geographic magazine for over three decades. He has done assignment work and has been published in numerous national and international publications including the New York Times, Life, Time, Audubon, Smithsonian, Natural History, GEO, Modern Maturity, BBC Wildlife, Outdoor Photographer, National Wildlife, and Outside.

His career with the National Geographic Society resulted in 23 magazine stories, several television features and many National Geographic books. His November 1997 National Geographic magazine feature, "North Woods Journal," was—according to editor William Allen—“the most photographs the magazine has ever published in one feature in its entire history … and by the way, using the least amount of film.” The bestseller Chased by the Light elaborates on Brandenburg’s experiences during the 90 days. Brandenburg produced a sequel, titled Looking for the Summer. A sample of that project was featured in the June 2003 issue of National Geographic magazine and the November 2003 issue of Outdoor Photographer and was the first completely digital story featured in both magazines' histories.

Brandenburg’s work has been featured on all major television and radio networks including Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, Dateline NBC, Animal Planet, and the National Geographic Channel, as well as National Public Radio's All Things Considered.

Over the course of his long career, Brandenburg has received a multitude of prestigious national and international honors for his work. The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) twice named him Magazine Photographer of the Year for his National Geographic magazine work. He was named Kodak Wildlife Photographer of the Year by BBC Wildlife Magazine and the Natural History Museum–London, and was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA). Brandenburg was a Hasselblad Master in 2002, a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens in 2001, and Canon Explorer of Light 2005-08.

Brandenburg was the recipient of the World Achievement Award from the United Nations Environmental Programme in Stockholm, Sweden, in recognition of his using nature photography to raise public awareness for the environment. He was recently awarded with an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, by the University of Minnesota, recognizing individuals who have achieved acknowledged eminence in cultural affairs, in public service, or in a field of knowledge and scholarship. Brandenburg has published many bestsellers including Chased by the Light, Looking for the Summer, Brother Wolf, White Wolf, and Minnesota Images of Home. He has also published four young adult books: To the Top of the World, Scruffy, An American Safari, and Sand and Fog. A National Geographic book, Face to Face With Wolves, featuring the work of Jim and Judy Brandenburg, was released in 2008.

Brandenburg was producer, director and cinematographer of a National Geographic movie, White Wolf, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. A television documentary featuring Brandenburg and his Chased by the Light project played throughout the U.S. on PBS, and Japanese Public Television (NHK) recently featured him in a two-hour documentary. He is currently working on several high-definition movies.

Brandenburg’s work can be seen by visiting his web page (www.jimbrandenburg.com), the Brandenburg Gallery located in Ely, Minnesota, or the nonprofit gallery in Luverne, Minnesota, which benefits the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation (www.brandenburgprairiefoundation.org).

Text by Rob Sheppard, from Photography Field Guide: Digital

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