National Geographic's Jason Edwards has been at the forefront of natural history photography for more than three decades. The collection of over 1,000,000 award winning images spans every continent and dozens of countries.
For more than three decades, I’ve roamed the world with a camera in hand, bearing witness to the raw beauty of nature and the complexities of the human condition. In every imaginable way, it’s been an adventure, overflowing with wonder, hardship and laughter.
My images all come from stories larger than the individual frame. One consistent element in the material my editors select from my assignments is diversity. Whilst fulfilling my photographic brief, I always attempt to expand the coverage so that the story can take on many dimensions. Stories evolve, and rarely is the finished product what was envisaged when the process began. It’s never about capturing ‘everything’, but more about translating the interconnected elements in the story.
About the collection
When you’ve been a photographer for a substantial period of time your image archive tends to take on a life of its own.
My early years with Kodak canister film and Ilford black and white negative film, laid the foundations for my knowledge of exposure and composition. In time, I migrated to Kodachrome 64 colour transparency, the staple film stock of National Geographic. It was a beautiful and yet unforgiving film, where one had to correctly expose in order to obtain suitable images. I felt privileged to begin my editorial career in the ‘Kodachrome furnace’ because the trial and error taught me how to read light.
View from the field
When I peer through a lens, the first two emotions I experience are wonder and potential. Every scene conveys a plethora of compositions to be explored and stories to be told. As a child and teenager I was fixated with pencil drawing and painting with oils. I created my own worlds and compositions, searching for balance and harmony, which I carried into my photography.
In natural history photography, knowledge of one’s subject is as important as your ability to capture it. Over many decades I’ve been committed to gaining knowledge and hands-on experience with wildlife; during my studies, my career as a zookeeper, and as a conservation photographer. I’ve spent decades learning from gifted researchers that guide my behaviour when dealing with species I’m unfamiliar with. However, I’m often alone in a remote location and it’s up to me to decide when, or if, I should be doing what I am doing.
See the world differently
In the past 20-years we’ve seen substantial changes in the medium and the tools we use to document the world. I’m an advocate for digital photography, although I feel it’s too forgiving and many photographers fail to learn the crucial relationships inherent in the exposure triangle.
For a long time I was regarded as a wildlife photographer. However, as my career evolved I became more aware of how interconnected species, people and the environment are.
How I wanted to tell a story had changed.
When elements come together and I capture what I’m looking for, it’s a true gift. There has always been a creative influence that guides my eye and hands, the ‘God of Photography’, sometimes throws me a photographic bone just when I really need it and I try to make appropriate sacrifices in time, labour and passion worthy of these gestures.
Photography has the potential to disseminate knowledge; to give joy, hope and at times sadness, but overall when utilised with the correct intent it can make the world a better place too.
People often ask me what my best images are, but this holds no frame of reference for me. It’s more about whether the image conveys the story I set out to share. Many images are special to me, reflecting moments, emotions and experiences. Here are some of those moments from my Collection.
I hope my images transport you to distant lands, introduce you to fascinating species, ecosystems and cultures, astound you with beauty, and celebrate life’s many wonders.
If you enjoy my images, consider one to hang in your home as a fine art print.