Thursday, March 9, 2023

National Geographic Lifetime Achievement Award


I am quite humbled to have received the Lifetime Achievement Award from my colleagues at the National Geographic magazine. The Photo Society, comprised of two hundred of the magazine’s photographers spanning 3 generations, surprised me with this announcement. To belong to the group the photographer must have done serious photographic feature assignment work for the magazine.  


I have been so very fortunate over the years to have received some precious and treasured awards around the world, but this one is unique for me because it is from my peers - some of the finest photographic talent in the world. Only five colleagues have been awarded this Lifetime Achievement Award previously. My first response was disbelief because as of late I have been mostly absent from that exceptional ‘family’ that I grew up with for fifty years.  I smile when I think about the Lifetime Achievement Award I received 20 years ago from the North American Nature Photography Association when I was a youthful 57.


I have evolved from the magazine assignment work and have returned to moving pictures, where I started when I was in my mid 20’s. My first assignment for National Geographic was with the TV division 50 years ago; Strange Creatures of the Night, a CBS pre-cable primetime television special. My last and largest NG magazine story was in 2016 - 93 Days of Spring.


I was not able to attend the award ceremony in Washington D.C. in late January as I was deeply emersed in 2 movie projects in Europe. They are the largest and most complex of my career; a feature film about my life in nature produced by a prominent Cannes award winning production company in Paris, and another large screen film that I created, wrote and am producing in Italy with a Bristol, UK film crew. I will share more about these rewarding yet daunting productions at a later date.


I am now back in a snowy Minnesota feeling extremely honored and a bit breathless contemplating it all. I am especially appreciative and beyond grateful for all the family and friends that helped pave the way. This is not possible without that kind of support!  

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Happy Father's Day


Thinking of my Dad “Buster” today. He was incredibly supportive in the early days when the thought of my being a professional was a far off dream and unlikely to happen according to some I admired. I realize more and more now how much of a difference he made in my life. 

During my late teens, he drove me to the Canadian Rockies where this portrait was made of us. 15 years later National Geographic Magazine sent me back there on an assignment. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day 2021



At noon on this Earth Day, I am reminded of the landscapes on the earth that have inspired and moved me in a deeper way than all of the other of the world’s spectacular places I have been so blessed to walk upon. Some can be overwhelming in their grandeur. Some have a joyful or important experience attached to them, perhaps like a treasured photograph I was able to make of them and keep in my midst. 


But two places have remained in that special treasure chest in my mind. The Giant Sequoia groves in California strongly spoke their power to me and conveyed nature’s deepest essence – mystery, majesty and wonder. The feeling of walking beneath the largest living things on earth has stayed with me since I first saw them 30 years ago. For 3000 years many human tribes have passed some of the same 35-foot-wide giants that grow there.   


Then, the second landscape that has forever been with me is the treeless tall grass prairie and Sioux quartzite boulder covered prominence a mile from my family farm birthplace in S.W. Minnesota’s Rock County. We call our 1200-acre prairie preserve Touch the Sky Prairie because this rise in the landscape lifts one up higher than the surrounding terrain - both visually and emotionally. The Sioux quartzite bedrock below your feet is some of the oldest and hardest on earth. The bedrock is 2 miles deep and gives me a true sense of being grounded to the earth below. The tribes that lived here long before also revered this place, I have seen much evidence of this. 


Exotic landscapes like the Himalayas, steaming enchanting African jungles, parched desert sands and animal filled plains along with the nearly inaccessible North Pole certainly made powerful impressions on me. But the two places I dwelled on here have stayed and lived with me in the deepest way.  


Today I hope we are all able to take some time to reminisce, reflect upon and honor those places that have touched each of us, whether it is a far-off enchanted landscape of our past or a familiar nearby sacred private spot with meaning.  


The two photographs attached are an all-night 10-hour star-streaked winter exposure of the General Sherman tree, the largest sequoia in Kings Canyon National Park California. The other is a fraction of a second captured autumn moment of my sacred Touch the Sky Prairie near Luverne, MN.         


A Happy Earth Day to you all, 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

50 Years of Earth Day

Besides my photography and film work, I’m particularly proud of my connections with the music industry and honored to be included in this Pollstar article about the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. James Taylor was the first artist I worked with when he agreed to do two benefit concerts for wolves. Long story short, it was the proceeds from the concerts that became a crucial part of the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone and the creation of Concerts for the Environment (CFE).

Over the years I felt we made a difference. Another example that stands out, Con Edison (an electrical supplier for New York City) was planning to build a hydroelectric dam on First Nation tribal land near the Hudson Bay area. Because of the CFE concert in NYC and the printed materials that we produced, protests followed and Con Ed changed its mind - the project was stopped. Dozens of artists donated their time for CFE environmental causes, including Sir Paul McCartney at Hollywood Bowl. We also worked with Willie Nelson, Steve Miller Band, Indigo Girls, Boyz II Men, Kenny Loggins just to name a few.

Earth Day 2020

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Day at a Time - Spring

Spring Day 17 12:00pm - Bald Eagle Superior National Forest

With everyone hopefully following the stay at home orders, I thought I'd share “93 Days of Spring” posted yesterday by National Geographic. Nature is a great healer of the spirit. This practice of capturing and then sharing a daily moment from nature in my self assigned daily projects has kept me grounded and mindful during challenging times. All seasons of the year have now been completed with this Spring collection being the 3rd season National Geographic has published, along with Summer and Autumn. The gratis daily video version shares a meditative one minute glimpse into my backyard world through the seasons. I invite you to join me in honoring the miracle of nature that I have been so fortunate to have experienced. Thank you and please be well,

Thursday, April 9, 2020


This handsome Wood Duck in his courting plumage strolled by my studio window early this morning. He looked up into the sky. A little later I saw what he was expecting. A short, but intense spring blizzard came roaring in to say we live in Minnesota. Animals know...


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year! A snowy end of the decade.

I don’t remember having this much snow during the holidays in my almost half century living here next to the BWCA wilderness on the Canadian border of Minnesota. A couple of days ago on December 30th I filmed a slow motion sequence with my iPhone of my old friend Canada jay during a lovely snowfall. The Canada jay is known to have the remarkable quality of trusting humans, more than any animal I know here in the boreal forest. “Camp Robber” is the local name they are given because if you turn your back while camping they may steal away with a food morsel. Through the years I have felt more and more affection for these birds. They make one smile on a cold winter day with their trust and intelligence. And they choose to stay here in the cold far north instead of migrating south, unlike most other birds! They also lay their eggs when there is still snow on the forest floor.   

I’m hoping the coming year will be an uplifting one for all of you. The series will continue through the next year where you may enjoy many more peaceful natural moments from my backyard. Thank you for your continued support.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Happy Earth Day 2019

Le Maine River - France

Happy Earth Day 2019! 

"We each have a role to play in ensuring that we do not pass a world beyond repair on to our children. Everyone must do their part, and as long as we unite to protect the one planet we have, we can leave it in better shape for future generations. On Earth Day, let us all accept our individual responsibilities to care for the world we live in, and let us marshal our best efforts toward building a safer, more stable, and more sustainable world."    ~Barack Obama, Earth Day 2016

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Year's Last Light 2018

Last evening during the last hour of the 2018 twilight I ventured out into the sub-zero boreal air for a brisk ski on a nearby lake next to the BWCA wilderness. I brought my camera drone to record a minute of myself amongst the shadows of the magical last rays of light. The extreme silent cold certainly makes one realize the true depth of wild nature. I felt like I was an unnatural intruder into that pristine space. I’m hoping the coming year will be an uplifting one for all of you. The series will continue through the next year where you may enjoy many more peaceful natural moments from my backyard. Thank you for your continued support.  Jim Brandenburg       

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Jim at Montier Photo Festival this weekend

I'm proud to be included in such a highly esteemed group of international photographers in the book Photographers Against Wildlife Crime, released May, 2018. I wrote the Afterword for the book.

The first edition is almost sold out, so if you'd like a copy of the book, please scroll down on this website and order soon through the following link. A Chinese edition (in Mandarin & English language) will be released soon.

The book and its exhibit will be presented at the 22nd Montier International Photo Festival in Montier-en-Der, France Nov. 15–18. I'm happy to be attending its booth over the weekend along with other photographers featured in the book. The Montier festival is the largest nature photography festival in the world, located in the Champagne district of France. A few years ago, I was named Parrain (Honorary Godfather) for the festival. Over 40,000 people typically attend the weekend event.  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

After Jim finished shooting winter, the entire year is now complete.

On March 21, 2018 Jim finished a milestone of making a photo of every day of Minnesota's four seasons. After shooting winter, the entire year is now complete. 

The project began with autumn in 1994; he set the goal of making only one photograph each day, all shot on negative film.  His bestseller book Chased by the Light followed.  The entire 90 days were published in National Geographic Magazine November 1997, titled "North Woods Journal".  It set the record of the most photographs in one feature in the magazine’s 125-year history and by-the-way with the least amount of film. 

Summer was shot in 2001 using his first digital camera; each photo had a file size of much less than today’s hi res cameras.  The summer season was published in National Geographic in the June 2003 issue titled "Boundary Waters". This set another record by being the first feature in NGM using a digital camera.  The book Looking for the Summer followed.

Jim shot spring in 2014, using his latest digital cameras.   Once again NGS published all 93 photographs April 2016 in "93 Spring Days". He broke his own 90 photos in one feature record with NGM.

As a point of reference and to show the extreme advancement of today's equipment, his winter images average at 130 megabytes each.  He shot most with the new Nikon D850 mostly using Zeiss 18mm and 85mm prime lenses. The difference in quality of the images from all seasons is profound.

Some of his new winter images are now on display at our Ely Brandenburg Gallery.  Stop in to see all his latest work.  We will keep you posted as to our plans of publishing the entire years work in one book!


Friday, November 10, 2017

German Society of Nature Photographers (GDT) honors Jim Brandenburg with Fritz Steiniger Award

Press Release from the German Society of Nature Photographers (GDT) honors Jim Brandenburg with Fritz Steiniger Award in recognition for his extraordinary contribution to nature photography.

"It was indeed an honor to have received this esteemed recognition from my European peers last week."

Jim Brandenburg – photographer, film maker, author, art historian, photo journalist and conservationist. This US-citizen's biography, born in Minnesota in 1945, is as impressive as the man himself. If you were to describe him in three words only, it probably would be curiosity, empathy and modesty. An extraordinary talent, whose images and films continue to enrich the world significantly.

Jim Brandenburg's photographic career is closely linked to National Geographic Magazine, which had him employed as a photographer for more than three decades. His numerous books have gained international fame, inspiring an entire generation of nature photographers. With "Chased by the Light" he created a milestone of landscape photography, and the cover picture of his book "Brother Wolf" has become an icon of nature photography.

During the course of his life, Jim Brandenburg has received a multitude of awards for his work in photography and journalism. BBC Wildlife Magazine and the Natural History Museum in London chose him as Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) twice awarded him the title Magazine Photographer of the Year. Four of Brandenburg’s images are part of a unique collection that represents the 40 most important nature photographs of all time, chosen by members of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP).

Promoting issues of nature conservation through expressive photography has always been a major concern to him. Captivated by the prairies of his native Minnesota from an early age, he founded the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation in 1999, an organisation dedicated to the protection of this highly endangered habitat. In addition, the committed conservationist regularly produces pieces for television, radio and the internet to inform a wider public audience about other environmental issues.

On the occasion of the 25th Nature Photography Festival in Lünen, this year on 28 October Jim Brandenburg has been honoured with the Fritz Steiniger Award, the most prestigious prize the GDT awards for extraordinary contribution to nature photography.

About the Fritz Steiniger Award Professor  – Fritz Steiniger was one of the founding fathers of the GDT, who had significant influence on the society's development throughout its first years. Dedicated to his memory, the GDT named its most supreme award Fritz Steiniger Award, which is given away for special contribution to nature photography. The first photographer to receive the award in 1986 was Herbert Erich Maas. Over the years, he was followed by Heinz Sielmann, Fritz Pölking, Horst Niesters, Frans Lanting, Klaus Nigge, Dietmar Nill, Winfried Wisniewski, Hannu Hautala and Steven Dalton.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Jim in Lünen, Germany to receive Fritz Steiniger Prize 2017

It is an honor to announce Jim has just received the Fritz Steiniger Prize 2017 from GDT Society of German Wildlife Photographers for his extraordinary contribution to nature photography. The award will be presented to Jim on Saturday, October 28, 2017 during the GDT Nature Photography Festival in Lünen, Germany.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Touch the Sky Prairie exhibit

Jim's Touch the Sky Prairie exhibit is currently showing at Legacy of the Lakes Museum in Alexandria, Mn through October 31, 2017.

Touch the Sky is a tribute to the breathtaking vistas and iconic creatures of the American prairie. World-renowned nature photographer Jim Brandenburg captures the wide-open magnificence of the prairie, as well as its often over-looked intricate details. In panoramic images, we see great herds of bison as well as the lowly grasshopper, dragonfly and dove. Lightning storms and wildfire rage across the landscape, while delicate blossoms sway in the breeze and yellow cottonwood leaves rest on new fallen snow. Through these photos, Brandenburg reveals the cycles of life with both precision and aesthetic grace.

Though best known for his work with National Geographic and his portraits of wolves in the North Woods, Brandenburg has been returning in recent years to his prairie roots. Growing up on the open, windblown prairies of southwest Minnesota, he started his photographic career with images of wildlife on a small, remnant patch of prairie near his grandfather's farm. Expanding from this Minnesota base, the exhibition includes images from prairies in Nebraska, Iowa, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, Illinois and other states.

Legacy of Lakes Museum
Alexandria, Mn USA

For Jim Brandenburg exhibit and event information, please visit our Events and Exhibits page on our blog.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jim at Montier Festival Photo this weekend

It is an honor for me to exhibit my work in the lovely Vosges Mountain area on the French/Swiss border in an outdoor photographic exhibition with the legendary images of Edward Curtis (1868-1952). I have long admired his epic documentary body of work on the Native American Indian. He has had a strong influence on my work since I was a boy and I am fortunate to have several of his prints in my home. I will be present at the official opening on July 15.

“Sacred Land: From the Vosges to the Americas” Les Sentiers De La Photo, Edition 2017.
July 15 – November 15, 2017
Le Haut-Du-Tot – Vosges Mountains, France

© Edward Curtis
© Edward Curtis
© Jim Brandenburg
© Jim Brandenburg

© Jim Brandenburg

Friday, April 21, 2017

This may be the most important Earth Day ever.

Happy Earth Day!
April 22, 2017

This may be the most important Earth Day ever.
"Because we all share this planet earth, we have to learn to live in harmony and peace with each other and with nature. This is not just a dream, but a necessity."  —Dalai Lama
Jim Brandenburg 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Memories with Chuck Berry

Today with the passing of music legend Chuck Berry my thoughts go back to the early days of my first career, music. One of the most memorable experiences was playing on stage along side Chuck Berry. I was a lead guitarist and at 17 years old felt more than a bit humbled. Looking back it seems like those were simpler times but it was not without stress and suffering in the professional music world of Rock and Roll. Surrounded by heavy alcohol use, drugs and abuse by those that controlled the music industry, the mad Rock and Roll life style of the day drove me to the profession that at the time was done by only a handful in the world - professional nature photography… an opposite world. Yet there were times I regretted the move, as music flows through my veins.

1963 was the year I stepped aside as Chuck, just out of prison, duck-walked across the stage and tripped on my guitar cable. It was also the year I stepped aside from the guitar and stage performance to devote my life to cameras and nature. At the time we didn’t have the perspective that we have today. Chuck Berry had some big hits then and was a real showman but time decides true historical importance. There is no question now as to Chuck Berry’s standing and importance in the influence of Rock and Roll music. Bob Dylan called the musician “the Shakespeare of rock ’n’ roll.”

Roll over Beethoven!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Wolves - Big, Not Bad

It was a privilege for me to do the narration for the Big, Not Bad video, a project for the Endangered Species Coalition. There are many reasons I have lived with, admired and filmed wolves most of my life. The video shares a few of their remarkable traits. The year long campaign will give others a chance to express their thoughts and photos.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Voices for Wildlife

Medicine of the Wolf, the movie I was involved in that Julia Huffman directed and produced is featured on National Geographic's Voices for Wildlife page. The first photograph is a yearling wolf I called Blondie. She was shot by a hunter in the first Minnesota wolf hunt. She is the last wolf I've been able to photograph since the first hunt in 2011.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Jim speaks today on MPR: 2-4pm CT

Today on MPR Radio: Jim speaks of his 50 year history in Ely. 2-4pm CT

Tom Weber from MPR Radio searching for wolf tracks at my Ravenwood home
I was honored when Minnesota Public Radio's Tom Weber spent a day with me at my home in the forest on the edge of the Boundary Waters last week. We talked of far ranging subjects such as the fascinating and complex culture of Ely, politics, the disappearance of the local wolf packs I have filmed for 35 years near my home and the future of the Boundary Waters in relation to mining. This broadcast today from 2-4pm is a 50-year anniversary special celebration of the founding of MPR. That coincides with my first coming to Ely 50 years ago. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Aurora Borealis Images Showing at ASI

The American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis MN is featuring eleven of Jim Brandenburg’s Aurora Borealis images in their Nordic Holidays: Celebrations of Light exhibit. The photographs can be viewed during ASI’s holiday museum hours until January 8, 2017

photo © Anthony Brandenburg

Monday, November 28, 2016

2016 Montier-en-Der Nature Photography Festival

This past week, I have been in France working on a new movie and attending a nature photography exhibition of my work in Montier-en-Der, located in the champagne district of France. Montier-en-Der is a village of about 2,000 people and incredibly there are about 40,000 visitors that come over a period of 4 days to view the photography. With that, it is said by some to be the largest animal and nature photography festival in the world. The French have a deep love of photography and nature, these numbers point this out. I was exhibiting with other European photographers.

I was also fortunate to spend time with my good friend Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk who lives in Nepal and has produced many best selling books on meditation, ethics, and photography. I have learned much from his work.

Jim & Matthieu Ricard

Included here are some moments from two of my exhibits at Montier-en-Der. One large outdoor exhibit that travels around France is called Un Homme et des Loups – A Man and Wolves. The other indoor exhibit is The Awakening, the 93 days of spring that was in the May, 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.

"Blondie" the last wolf I have seen in the wild.

A preview of The Awakening Spring Project.