The exercise of selecting the Top Forty Nature Photographs of all time is both an honor and a tremendous challenge. It may not be possible for anyone to create a definitive selection of the forty “best” or “most important” nature photographs, if only due to the vast variety of criteria that must be considered. But the international League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP) decided to try anyway and made their announcement this week to help celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.
The international League of Conservation Photographers is a fellowship of the top professional photographers from around the world working today. More than 100 photographers and editors associated with the iLCP nominated images that they considered to be “the best” in what they felt represented aesthetics, uniqueness, historical and scientific significance, and conservation efforts. The photographers were not permitted to self-nominate.
The prestigious Top Forty nominations represent the work of 25 photographers including the legendary Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Eliot Porter. Four of Brandenburg’s images were included in the final selection, more than any other photographer. “To have 4 of my photographs chosen by my peers as part of the top 40 nature photographs of all time is indeed the highlight of my career. I am honored beyond words,” said Brandenburg.
The four Brandenburg images selected were: Oryx on Namib Desert, Namibia, southwest Africa; Gray Wolf near BWCAW, Ely, Minnesota; Leaping Arctic wolf, Ellesmere Island, Canada; and Bison on Frozen Landscape, Blue Mounds State Park, Luverne, Minnesota. Within this past year, the Arctic wolf image was named one of 100 most important photos in Canadian history in the book “100 Photos that Changed Canada.”
The oldest nature photograph included in the Top 40 is of three frightened deer in the north woods of Michigan near Lake Superior by George Shiras, published in 1921 in National Geographic Magazine.
Jim Brandenburg’s long career of conservation efforts was honored in 1991 by the United Nations. He received the World Achievement Global 500 Forum award in recognition of his using nature photography to raise public awareness for the environment. Jim and his wife Judy are the founders of the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation (BPF), whose mission is to preserve native prairies in southwest Minnesota. The BPF has helped to preserve approximately 1000 acres to date with Touch the Sky Prairie, a division of USFWS Northern Tallgrass Prairie National Wildlife Refuges. Touch the Sky Prairie is near Brandenburg’s hometown of Luverne, MN.
These Top Forty iconic nature photographs are a part of Christie's Green Auction in support of Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Central Park Conservancy.
Christie’s Green Auction: A Bid to Save the Earth will be held on April 22nd at Christie’s in New York and will be carried live beginning at 7:30 pm EST on www.christies.com. A companion silent auction is being hosted at www.abidtosavetheearth.org. April 8th through May 6th. Jim has generously donated a signed print of each image.
The complete collection of the Top Forty Nature Photographs may be viewed here.