To roam the farthest corners of the Earth, where wild creatures live, is a privilege reserved for the adventurous few. Cristina Mittermeier is one of those few. Cristina dedicates her life to creating images that help us understand the urgent need to protect wild places.
Cristina first discovered her insatiable passion for the natural world, both above and below the surface, as a Marine Biologist working in the Gulf of California and Yucatan Peninsula. From there, it didn’t take long for her to realize that she could make a bigger impact on how people see the world, and connect to it, through the lens of her camera than through data on spreadsheets.
Today, Cristina is a National Geographic Photographer, Co-founder and President of the conservation society, SeaLegacy, a Sony Artisan of Imagery, the editor of 24 coffee table books on conservation issues, and sought after keynote speaker and presenter. Her images focus on demonstrating the significant relationship between human cultures, especially indigenous people, and biodiversity.
“Conservation is a puzzle,” she says. “Where many pieces have to fit together to make things work. For me, the choice of being a photographer is to become a piece of the puzzle. In the absence of that, for me, photography means nothing.”
Cristina has worked in more than 100 countries on every continent in the world. Her work is about building a greater awareness of the responsibility of what it means to be a human. It is about understanding that the history of every living thing that has ever existed on this planet also lives within us. It is about the ethical imperative—the urgent reminder that we are inextricably linked to all other species on this planet and that we have a duty to act as the keepers of our fellow life forms.
Cristina is also the Founder and former President of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) and was recently recognized as one of the World’s top 40 Most Influential Outdoor Photographers by Outdoor Magazine. She is also the recipient of the 2011 Nature’s Best/Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year award and the North American Nature Photographer’s Association 2010 Mission Award. Cristina sits on the board of the WILD Foundation, is part of Conservation International’s Chairman’s Council, and of the advisory board for the Wild Seas and Waters Program and the Marine Wilderness 10 + 10 Project. As a public speaker, she has given presentations in forums ranging from the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to the TEDx stage.
Cristina has three grown children, all working in the conservation field. She lives on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada, with her partner Paul Nicklen.