MY JOURNEY AS A CONSERVATION PHOTOGRAPHER

I am fortunate to have worked in many of the world’s most pristine and remote wildlife and cultural destinations as a conservation photographer. Furthermore to have my images appear in most of the major magazines of the world in the field including National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Time, International Wildlife, Smithsonian, Geo, Nature’s Best, Terre Sauvage, Outdoor Photography, The Economist, Geographical, Ranger Rick and Airone as well as being featured ten times in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. I have lived with my wife and partner Reneé Bish, as a resident of Ecuador for 31 and 24 years respectively. Together we have published thirteen books, mostly on Ecuadorian conservation themes. We work primarily on conservation related subjects in the hope that the power of the image will help further such efforts around the world. I was considered by Outdoor Photography magazine to be among the top 40 most influential nature photographers in the world and am a proud Founder Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and in 2009 I was selected as part of the Wild Wonders of Europe ‘Dream Team’. In 2014 I was awarded Ecuadorian Photo Journalist of the Year plus the IUCN Melvita grant. In 2015 I was named Ranger Rick Photographer of the Year, and won the IUCN/Terre Sauvage ‘Man in Nature’ photographic prize. I am a contributing photographer for the Annenberg Space for Photography and a Gitzo ambassador, a board member of the marine conservation-based magazine SevenSeas and work in partnership with the Orianne Society. In 2017 I was a judge for the prestigious Big Picture Competition run by the California Academy of Sciences. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. 

Reneé and I are co-owners and operators of Focus Expeditions, leading responsible travel to some of the world’s richest cultures and most biodiverse and pristine areas of our planet.

Conservation Photographer Pete Oxford sits in front of Cotopaxi Volcano in Ecuador.

So, what do I specialize in?

The simple answer is “I specialize in being a generalist.”
That being said, some of my favorite areas of photography are:
conservation, human impact, underwater, wildlife, indigenous people, travel, aerial and landscapes
Click on the pictures below to see the respective portfolios.

“…through the magical lens of the well known photographer Pete Oxford, we are introduced to the cosmovision of the jungle and more of its spirit…”

MARCELA AGUIÑAGA VALLEJO, Minister of the Environment of Ecuador
“Like ourselves, Pete Oxford has been a passionate advocate for the Amazon for over twenty years. His admiration and appreciation of the Huaorani people of the Yasuní National Park reaches its apotheosis in this startling collection of photographs. Pete has captured the spirit of this clan in a hitherto unparalleled way.”

STING & TRUDIE STYLER, Musician
“Pete is the ultimate can-do wildlife photographer. He can drop down on all fours to capture the look on a tiny frog that is so intimate you immediately bond with it. Then he can turn his camera upward on a huge rhino being lifted by helicopter and transported to safety and thoroughly mesmerize you with the results. He can also put on scuba gear, dive into a school of sardines and photograph a sailfish swimming in wild swirls at 60 miles an hour. He’s truly amazing!”
SUSAN McELHINNEY, National Wildlife Federation’s Ranger Rick Magazine Photo Editor
“It is the extremes of this variation, captured by the superb photography, that makes this book, Yasuni, Tiputini and the Web of Life, stand out. Although I am very experienced in tropical life, and previous illustrated essays on the subject, I found this one breathtaking—literally in this case, since I held by breath a moment on opening each page, in order to examine each startling detail. May the subjects thus depicted be saved for all generations to come.”
EDWARD O. WILSON, Professor Emeritus Harvard University and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, describing Pete's book

Published Articles

39
Below is an eclectic selection of some of my articles:

Life among the monkey hunters: The Amazon tribe that has evolved flat feet after years of catching primates to eat by climbing trees and shooting them with blowpipes (Daily Mail, January, 2017)

Amazing Pictures Reveal Life Inside An Amazon Tribe (LADbible, UK, January, 2017)

Incredible photos of Ecuadorian tribe, whose lifestyle is threatened by oil exploration (Metro, UK, January, 2017)

Meet the Monkey Eaters (The Sun, UK, January, 2017)

Incredible images show remote Ecuadorian Amazon tribe who hunt with blow darts and wear dead monkeys (Daily Mirror, UK, January 2017)

Life Among the Monkey Hunters (Daily Mail, UK, January 2017)

Monkey Paradise (Ranger Rick, March 2017)

Apa Tani tribe North East India

Amazing photos show 2,200-pound rhino in helicopter airlift above African jungle in relocation to protect them from poachers (Daily Mirror, UK, January 2017)

Rhino Lifted by Helicopter in Incredible Pics (Metro, UK, January 2017)

L’Alliance pour les Requins (Terre Sauvage, n° 327, April 2016)

Dive Photo Guide Photographer of the Week

Frontiers: A Special Breed (American Cowboy Magazine, 2016)

Whale Sharks (SEVENSEAS Travel Magazine, Issue 9, February 2016)

Buceando con tiburones ballena (Mundo Diners, March 2016)

Nagas, los últimos cazadores de cabezas (Mundo Diners, October 2015)

Elephant Rescue: A roving herd in Zimbabwe puts human ingenuity to the test (National Wildlife Federation, September 2015)

View from the Crater’s Rim (Galapagos Matters, Autumn/Winter 2015)  

These Are The Measures We Need To Take To Make Sure Elephants Are Safe (Huffington Post, 2015)

Yasuní, Una Visión Personal (Mundo Diners, August 2013)

Gorgeous Brunette and Stunning Blonde Run Wild in Marataba (Africa Geographic, February 2013)  

Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park (NBC News, 2013)

Yasuni National Park seen through the lens of nature photogapher Pete Oxford (NBC News, 2013)

Stories from Marataba: Babe the Bushpig (Africa Geographic, November 2012)

Roaming with rhinos in South Africa (Wanderlust Travel Magazine, Issue 132, November 2012)

Touched by lightning (Africa Geographic, October 2012)  

Rediscover Rupununi In Southern Guyana, A Wildlife Haven (Huffington Post, September 2011)

Galapagos – in pictures (The Guardian, June 2011)

Return of the Spanish Tiger (BBC Wildlife Magazine, Vol. 29, No. 2, February 2011)

To Catch a Harpy Eagle (BBC Wildlife, July 2010)

A Lifeline for the Iberian Lynx (National Geographic Magazine, May 2010)  

Clawing Back the Past (Africa Birds & Birding, Vol. 14, No. 6, December 2009/January 2010)

Rarest Cat in the World Photographed in the Wild (TreeHugger, April 2009)

En el corazón de la selva (National Geographic España, 2007)

Ecuador: Der Schatz im Nebelwald (GEO Magazine, No. 8, August 2006)

Die Waldgeister von Madagaskar (Universum Magazin Österreichs, No. 6, June 2006)

Landing the Spirit of the Air (Américas Magazine, Vol. 58, No. 3, May/June 2006)

Farewell to Flamingos? (National Wildlife Magazine, December 2003)

In the Land of Giant Frogs (National Wildlife Magazine, October 2003)

Where Eagles Dare (Wanderlust Travel Magazine, Issue 52, June/July 2002)

Giants of the Deep (BBC Wildlife, Vol. 19, No.11, November 2001)

Spirits of the Forest: the Lemurs of Madagascar (Africa Environment & Wildlife, Vol. 4, No. 1, January/February 1996)

Published Books

13
Undiscovered Guyana
(WWF, 2016) Foreword by President of Guyana David A. Granger

Yasuní, Tiputini and the Web of Life
(Ingwe Press, 2012) Foreword by E.O. Wilson

The Origin of the Waorani
(Quito Ministerio del Ambiento, 2011)

Galapagos Wildlife
(Bradt Travel Guides Ltd., 2011)

Rupununi Rediscovering a Lost World
(Earth in Focus Editions, 2010) Foreword by HRH Prince Charles

Spirit of the Huaorani: An Amazon people of the Yasuní region of Ecuador
(Imagine Publishing Inc., 2009) Foreword by Trudie Styler & Sting

Galapagos: Both Sides of the Coin
(Enfoque Ediciones, 2009) Foreword by HRH Prince Philip

Cunsi Pindo: La Señora de los Monos
(Simbioe, 2007)

Ecuador: Land of Frogs
(FHGO, 2004)

Ecuador
(Dinediciones, 2004)

Chagras: Ecuador’s Andean Cowboys
(Dinediciones, 2004)

Galapagos: The Untamed Isles
(Ediciones Libri Mundi Enrique Grosse-Luemern, 2001)

Amazon Images: A portfolio of impressions from the Ecuadorian Amazon
(Dinediciones, 1995)

Accolades

27
2016 Scuba Diving Magazine Underwater Photo Contest Honorable Mention

2016 BigPicture Natural World of Photography Human/Nature Finalist

2015 IUCN/Terre Sauvage ‘Man in Nature’ Photographic Prize

2015 Out of the Blue: The Prince of Wales’s Commonwealth Environmental Photography Awards (Highly Commended)

2014 Terre Sauvage IUCN Melvita Grant Winner

2014 Ranger Rick Photographer of the Year

2014  Ecuadorian Photojournalist of the Year

2010 FotoCAM Nature Photography Competition, Highly Commended (Underwater)

2010 FotoCAM Nature Photography Competition, Highly Commended (Underwater)

2008 Nature’s Best / Windland Smith Rice International Awards, Highly Honored Image (Indigenous Cultures)

2007 National Wildlife Photo Contest, First Place (New Life, Professional)

2007 Nature’s Best / Windland Smith Rice International Awards, Highly Honored Image (Endangered Species)

2007 Nature’s Best / Windland Smith Rice International Awards, Highly Honored Image (Birds)

2007 Nature’s Best / Windland Smith Rice International Awards, Highly Honored Image (Wildlife)

2005 Nature’s Best / Windland Smith Rice International Awards, Highly Honored Image

2003 El Comercio / Jorge Mantilla Ortega Journalist of the Year, Highly Commended

2001 AGFA Wildlife and Environment Awards, Man & the Environment Category (Runner-up)

1999 AGFA Wildlife and Environment Awards, Top 50

1995 GeoMundo Photographic Competition, Overall Winner

 

BBC WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR  

2006 Gerard Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife (Runner-up)

2006 Animals in Their Environment (Highly Commended)

2003 The World In Our Hands (Highly Commended)

2003 Gerard Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife (Highly Commended)

2002 The World In Our Hands (Highly Commended)

2001 The World In Our Hands (Winner)

1997 The World In Our Hands (Highly Commended)

1996 British Wildlife (Highly Commended)

1995 Wildlife in Trade (Runner-up)

1995 Animal Portraits (Highly Commended)

FAQS

I have always believed that images are able to portray messages and I have never been shy about photographing ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’. My passion began as a hobby but I was fortunate enough to be able to have some of my conservation messages published in articles in various magazines around the world early in my career. My first love is not photography – but nature and conservation. It was only after realizing that photography was a powerful tool to help conserve the things I loved that I decided to dedicate my life to that end.
The easy answer is to start local and photograph issues close to home with which you have a deep understanding. These are often readily published in local media and are very useful in galvanizing your community to take on board the conservation issue with which you are concerned.
An open mind!

Also, in the words of Ansel Adams, “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!”

On a less flippant note I use Nikon gear and Nauticam housings for underwater. My current favorite bodies are Nikon D810 and Nikon D500. Favorite lenses are 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 200-400mm

To foment change. I want to leave a positive legacy of change in the natural world through education and creating awareness of both its beauty and threats before I leave this planet.
I specialize in being a generalist. I enjoy everything from people, aerials, landscapes and wildlife to macro and underwater.
I am a non-techie. My interest when photographing wildlife or people in particular is to portray as much of the spirit and essence of the subject as possible. To me an image that best displays this sense of personality is preferable to one displaying technical excellence only.
There are four:

– To be allowed unrestricted access to document everything about Yasuní National Park, good and bad.
– The same for Galapagos.
– Global fishing pressure on marine resources.
– A portfolio of human portraits from around the world.

Being face to face with a black jaguar at 6-8 meters for an hour in the Yasuni, Ecuadorian Amazon.

Earning the trust of wild fossas in Madagascar and Iberian lynx in southern Spain.

Each time it was a privilege to be in the company of such incredible and virtually unphotographed animals.

Being charged by a wall of 60 elephants. On the Botswana side of the Caprivi Strip elephants crossed from Namibia, where they are persecuted, the first thing they encountered was our land cruiser and decided to take their frustration out on us.
Hell on Earth! Everything since the transfer to digital from film has become so much more time consuming and overwhelming after the fact. We seem to always be backlogged and constantly playing catch up with demands these days whereas we never were when shooting film.
We need you all so keep at it! The number of photographic enthusiasts today is astronomical and if we work together, as a lobby, we can effect change. I sincerely believe that anyone who benefits from a park or wilderness area has the responsibility to help protect it, ie don’t simply use it and leave but use it and raise questions if there are issues.
When the composition is right and I can see several levels to a picture I click the shutter button. Usually I try and capture more than the simple story of what is going on, I try and capture the bigger picture. However, every situation can be entirely different.
Non-stop shooting. There are photographers that only shoot around dawn and dusk – I am not one of them. Yes, that may be when the lighting is most favorable however it is very limiting when you are trying for an exciting or important moment. By shooting all day I not only capture things that others might miss but it allows me the time to learn my surroundings – the landscape, the wildlife and the people and to better understand their behaviors – ultimately making for better images.

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