One of my favorite parts of the Year in Review series is when I get a chance to share the work of my peers with my audience. These are folks whose work I admire and respect, and in some cases with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing time in the field. As always, the purpose of this article is to expose my own audience to new artists and perspectives.
I am honored and excited to have over twenty photographers participating once again this year! Some of these folks are pros, while others are semi-professionals or hobbyists, but they all have produced some fantastic images over the years. I hope you’ll take time to see their highlighted images below and visit their websites/social media accounts to see their full “Best of 2022” galleries or their general photo collections. Note that I’ve switched things up this year, and we’re going by alphabetized first names.
All photos below are posted with permission and remain the intellectual property of their original owners. Please respect their copyrights!
Amy is a fellow Yellowstone-area photographer who’s been documenting wildlife in the GYE’s eastern region for years, in addition to other locations such as Costa Rica and Africa. She’s taking advantage of retirement by filling her recent slate with more park exploration and two recent Africa trips.
About the photo: “Adrenaline, fear, and organized chaos… The Great Migration in Africa is sometimes referred to as The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth. And, after witnessing it first hand, I whole-heartedly agree. Two million wildebeest along with 700,000 zebras and antelope move from the Maasai Mara region of Kenya south into the Tanzanian Serengeti. Driven by the rains that green the landscape, the migration is not a single event but a year long, 1200 mile journey that makes a giant circle as the animals follow the food and, after almost a year, end up right back where they started. The journey is an incredible display of ‘survival of the fittest,’ and some of the most stunning drama occurs as the wildebeest cross the Mara River.
“The whole experience is filled with edge-of-your-seat excitement. Driven by instinct and the search for ‘greener’ pastures, the wildebeest will cross many times during the migration. Each time, they approach the river’s edge with caution, but once they start to cross, it’s game on. The entire herd converges and funnels through a crossing point… the thousands of animals in the back of the herd push the rest forward, forcing them to dive from the river banks and cliffs into the water and swim for their lives. They risk drowning, breaking legs on the rocks, and becoming meals for the 12+ foot Nile crocodiles that line the shores and lurk under the water. We watched one young wildebeest fall prey to a croc. I just kept saying ‘damn’ and ‘wow’ over and over and over. I was in awe of the spectacle I was witnessing.
“In all, we watched three crossings. I have so many images to sort through… and, it is becoming clear that capturing this event in a single image is difficult. The old adage ‘photos just can’t do it justice’ most definitely apply in this case. When you are a wildlife lover, witnessing the Great Migration is something you dream about. I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
See more of Amy’s work:
A biologist and photographer, Anton does a lot of work in the Americas, highlighted (in my opinion) by his fantastic macro photography featuring reptiles and amphibians.
About the photo: “In the 2nd half of 2021 I started my journey into underwater photography. This year I continued that learning process – making plenty of mistakes, but also refining my technique and ending up with a higher percentage of keeper shots. I habitually hauled my underwater camera rig around on trips on the off chance of being able to squeeze in the time to use it, and on a quick visit to see family in Wisconsin over the Summer I did exactly that. I spent a day snorkeling and poking around the same wetlands I explored as a kid and managed to track down one of my favorite species there, the Blandings turtle (Emydoidea blandingii).
These endangered turtles are exceptionally pretty, in my opinion among North America’s most beautiful turtle species, and what’s more is that they are very, very rarely photographed underwater. Most images of them depict individuals basking on logs or moving across land. In part, this is because they tend to prefer to lurk in fens and swamps dense with vegetation where photography is difficult, and in part because relatively few people go wading into these environments. These turtles are amazingly long-lived, with individuals regularly recorded as living into their 70s or 80s. Considering the small population of these endangered turtles and the location, it is not entirely unlikely that I encountered this exact turtle ~15 years ago as a kid when I was just beginning to photograph wildlife and dreaming of someday being able to document the turtles underwater in their element. I’m thrilled to have finally been able to fulfill that desire this year.”
See more of Anton’s work:
Barrett and Twila Hedges
Barrett and Twila are Yellowstone colleagues (in a roundabout way, by way of Canada and Alaska!). Barrett is a National Geographic photo competition grand prize winner, and has received multiple commendations in Nature’s Best. He also has galleries in Skagway, Alaska, and Banff, Alberta. This is their first year contributing to the Peers list, and I’m excited to feature their work!
About the photo: “Seeing the excitement in a bear’s face when it sees a salmon it thinks it can catch is priceless. At the peak of a salmon run, thousands of fish are in the river and moving upstream at the same time. Many brown bears will sit and wait for that perfect opportunity, instead of running and chasing after each salmon. After watching some salmon swim by, this brown bear focused in on one particular salmon. Without hesitation, it ran and leapt full speed, and with its claws out front to try and catch the salmon, splashed into the river. It came up successfully with the salmon in its mouth!”
See Barrett’s newest images:
About the photo: “Each summer salmon migrate back to Alaska and swim to the rivers they were born in. Brown bears wait in anticipation for the fish to return, as this is their main source of food before they hibernate for the winter. Thousands of fish return to each river, but usually spread out quickly, which is what made this encounter so exciting! The bears in this area had their pick from hundreds of sockeye salmon at a time. What an incredible sight it was! As the bears would swim towards the fish, the schools of fish would break away quickly trying to avoid the bears’ grasp. The odds were definitely in the bears’ favor and they had successful catch after successful catch.”
See more of Twila’s work:
Bill is a long-time friend with whom we’ve shared adventures in Yellowstone, Africa and Australia. Even though he doesn’t have a website and only shares photos on his personal social media account, I’m happy to include his posts here.
About the photo: “During our spring trip to Yellowstone this year we were having lunch in a pull-out near the pond by the Yellowstone picnic area. Looking out the window of our motor home we spotted this salamander being toyed with by a Uinta ground squirrel. He kept spinning it around in his hands and acting like he was going to eat it. He would let it go then grab it again and continue to play with it. At times it looked like he was really going to take a bite! This lasted for about 5 minutes before he finally let the salamander slowly wander away.”
I’m excited to include Danny’s work in the year-end Peers’ collection. Danny is a highly-lauded photographer from the UK. He’s been honored multiple times in such prestigious competitions as Wildlife Photographer of the Year (he’s a fellow winner of the Black and White category, among other commendations), European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and Nature’s Best. He leads photo tours worldwide. As with so many of my peers on this list, we first met in Yellowstone!
About the photo: “I took this image in Svalbard in late March. I have been visiting Svalbard at this time of the year for many years now. It’s a wonderful location for the wildlife photographer as the landscape and the subject matter is just amazing. It is a good place at any time of the year, but I think it really is at its best during the late winter. The landscape is just so pristine with all that fresh winter snow and the subjects you can find just look great in their winter fur or plumage.
We photographers don’t get many opportunities to work in stunning light as when you get the light, you can’t find a subject or when you find a subject the light is bad, so it can be frustrating. On the occasion I took this image it was a clear morning and extremely cold, the light bouncing around the fjord was beautiful but after a couple of hours we couldn’t find anything. Then we found this female with her young cub. She had just emerged from her winter den and was heading to the sea ice to find herself her first meal for months, the cub was sticking by his mum really close, and it must have felt like a different and exciting new world for him. We kept our distance as we didn’t want to disturb her, and she just walked slowly towards us. I managed a few shots of her walking towards me but decided to keep her in the distance, so putting her and her cub in context with the beautiful landscape. I never thought I would have this chance to find a female with such a young cub, as I have never seen one before. It was an amazing experience and an encounter I will never forget.”
See more of Danny’s work:
David and his partner, Jennifer Renwick, are full time photographers who travel the country photographing landscapes and other natural subjects. They lead and teach workshops around the country. David is also owner of the Nature Photographers Network, a critique-based photography community in which I’ve participated for many years.
About the photo: “The weather proved to be the most important component in my photography in 2022. Flash floods wreaked havoc on two of my favorite national parks, Yellowstone and Death Valley. The circumstances made for challenging yet rewarding photography. This photograph was taken in Zion National Park during a severe snowstorm that passed through Zion Canyon. Much of the time was gloomy and dismal, but with some patience, the clouds parted and let this warm sunset light highlight the sandstone cliffs with frigid, snowy slopes in the background. I had mere moments to capture the light before it faded away. With climate change, the weather will continue to play a significant role in our photos, bringing both disaster and beauty.”
I was fortunate to meet Florian during my short trip to Sanmenxia, China, in November of 2019 (right before everything blew up). We were among a small group of photographers invited to exhibit our work at the Swan City’s nature photography exhibition. Florian specializes in photographing wildlife and natural areas in the earth’s polar regions. He has won multiple awards, including commendations in Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and has been a key contributor to BBC’s Frozen Planet II and Disney’s Polar Bear documentaries.
About the photo: “Two young, innocent polar bear adults played together on fresh ice, punching through the ice, making holes, diving, and ice skating. It felt like they were away from all the troubles and hard times life reserved for them. For us, being out there for more than five months on the ice, it felt like this was the moment it all came together. Never had one of our team expeditions seen so much love and fun between two polar bears in such a unique scenery. They played 6 hours non-stop.”
See more of Florian’s work:
Heidi is a Yellowstone friend/hot chocolate delivery person who is known for her northern light photography (which she photographs frequently near her home in northern Minnesota), and she also teaches and gives talks at the International Wolf Center. But as you’ll see from her collection, she photographs quite a variety of subjects!
About the photo: “As the swirling streamers of light moved across the horizon, the pillars grew vivid before my eyes. Capturing one moment of the dance is never enough; catching the beauty of the reflection is always a bonus! Photographed Labor Day Weekend, 2022, in Aurora, Minnesota.”
Jennifer and I met in Yellowstone (of course) a few winters back, and seem to cross paths there every year. She is an award-winning landscape and fine art photographer who has been widely published and has been a featured speak for numerous events and organizations. I’m attracted to Jennifer’s black and white work in particular, and am excited to finally share one of her images as part of this collection.
About the photo: “Iceland is one of my favorite locations to photograph landscapes, and I have traveled there many times over the years. In September of 2022, I decided that my trip would be focused on black & white photography. I have always felt there is something quite magical about the fine art of black & white as it creates a sense of illusion, and this could only add to the natural beauty of the inspiring waterfalls, like Skogafoss, that are spread throughout the country. I approached the waterfall with the intent to showcase its massive power and unyielding beauty, and after several hours of watching, waiting, getting wet and cold, I was able to visualize the image I wanted to create. Working with light and shadow, along with a long exposure, I was able to create a photo that captures this extreme force of nature.”
See more of Jennifer’s work:
Jérémy is a colleague who specializes in still and video photography. Though he is from France, we met in Yellowstone, where he leads tours each year. Jérémy recently moved to Canada, taking advantage of his time abroad to explore many of North America’s wild areas.
About the photo: “I started paddling early that day in July on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I was in front of a double kayak with my friend and kayak guide Paul, scanning the shoreline for a few hours through the fog. The tide was one of the lowest of the season this morning. I knew my chances to spot a coastal wolf were at their highest as that elusive animal gets out of the forest to walk the rocks and the beaches in search of food coming from the ocean. Thanks to my buddy positioning the kayak while I was photographing, I was able to anticipate the wolf popping up on top of the rocks. This is a photo I was thinking about for a long time, showing the animal in his habitat and how these wolves are linked to the ocean. Using the kayak was our only way to be silent and positioned as low as possible on the water.
I like to think we’ve taken this photo together, as I wouldn’t have been to be there at the right time and place without the help and complicity of my friend.”
See more of Jérémy’s work:
Jess is one of Canada’s leading nature photographers, and has doing exciting work on some longer conservation and research projects in more remote wilderness areas in recent years. He’s a past winner of the Windland Smith Rice Youth Photographer of the Year Award, and has multiple honors in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year’s senior competition. Much of his work highlights the amazing wildlife of British Columbia, as well as tropical birds and other species in Central and South America.
About the photo: “Early this autumn, I began exploring a watershed just outside the city of Vancouver. I was interested in learning more about the habits of these big cats; some of which live out their lives right at the interface of urban sprawl and wilderness, largely unknown to the many people with which they share trails. Despite their impressive stature, it’s their cryptic and retiring nature that allows them to persist unnoticed in these environments.
“Tracking in the temperate rainforest poses some unique challenges; every surface is covered in dense layers of vegetation, and only a handful of days each year see measurable snowfall. Black-tailed Deer — their preferred prey species in the area — are found in small, inconspicuous groups. So without obvious ungulate herds and the opportunity to intercept physical cat tracks, one has to key in on more subtle signs in the field, such as scrapes, scratching posts, topographic funnels, and even wind direction. Learning to see a familiar landscape in a totally new way was a rewarding experience in and of itself.
“Having found some encouraging signs, I eventually decided on a location where my trail camera later confirmed the presence of two cougars in the area. There I set up my gear, where it sat for five weeks, until the larger of the two individuals returned, just hours after I’d last visited the site to swap batteries. This frame is a mixture of the ambient light of dusk, and three wireless flashes. I was thrilled to have captured this pose from such a beautiful individual!”
Jill Cooper & Simon Jackson
Jill and Simon are conservation-minded storytellers based in Canada. They are the founders of the Ghost Bear Institute, which emphasizes youth-oriented education and conservation, and Nature Labs, a virtual textbook being used to advance nature literacy. Considering they barely got any photography in this year, I’m grateful that they took time to go out and capture a photo for submission!
About the photo: “Though it’s hard to believe, we never set foot in the field this year until we received an email from Max requesting our top image of the year. From working around the clock on post-production for Nature Labs, to Long Covid keeping Jill in bed for months, to Simon suffering from a serious neurological disorder, wildlife photography was pretty much impossible. But there is no way we could let Max down; we had to snag a photo with just days remaining in the year.
We gave ourselves one day—less than seven hours of light—in the Canadian Rockies to see what we could find. And wouldn’t you know it, just before sunrise, we found a beautiful grey wolf that kindly stopped in its tracks, sat and howled for five minutes, framed by forest and jagged peaks.
In building Nature Labs, we had terrible luck with wolves (mainly because we had to focus on our main narrative story – the tale of two grizzly bear siblings) and we just had to get this moment on video. Sorry, Max.
Onwards, and beginning to feel like we were pushing our luck, trying to find a second great encounter this day, we struck gold. Gold? Okay, well maybe bronze is more like it, based on the image you see before you. Nonetheless, for mere hours in the field in 2022, we were thrilled to spend time with this young, beautiful and inquisitive red fox, mousing in the fading light, saving us from going 0-for-2022. Oh! And, as it turns out, we still knew how to use a camera! Sort of. Only a few swear words were uttered while trying to recall our camera short-cuts and the location of the shutter.”
See more of Jill and Simon’s work:
John is a nature and wildlife photograph who documents subjects in the western US, particularly in Utah and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He was also a fellow Highly Commended recipient in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Animal Portraits category a couple years ago, and we also shared honors in the 2017 Windland Smith Rice photography awards.
About the photo: “The great thing about wildlife photography is that it’s always unpredictable, and the subject matter is limitless. While my favorite subjects will always be the bears/moose/bison of the mountain west, I was able to observe the amazing behavior of humpback whales feeding in the Gulf of Alaska this past summer. This was a first for me, and hopefully far from the last. My words would pale to describe the feeling of 20+/- tons of amazing life rising out of the water as it fed with another ten or so whales in the area, but I can say it left me feeling what I titled this image — miniscule. Here’s to many new and soul stirring adventures in the year ahead!”
Editor’s note: I asked John to pick this image over a bear shot because I felt it was unique to this year’s collection, but also because I’ve never seen a feeding whale shot with such a massive flock of birds being an integral part of the frame. Thanks, John, for going with me on this one!
Judd is an excellent photographer who recently moved out west from Florida. Though he works for the National Park Service in a capacity outside of photography, Judd travels frequently with camera in hand in his free time, with a focus on avian subjects. I interviewed Judd and highlighted some of his excellent work a few years ago here in the blog.
About the photo: “After moving west last February it’s been wonderful to return to exploring the prairies and mountains of Colorado and nearby states. In June the shortgrass prairie comes to life and I love to spot tiny pronghorn fawns hidden within the ankle-high grasses and flowers. Their camouflage does wonders, especially when they crouch with their head down against the soil. I was quite pleased to find this particular fawn nestled in such a wonderful bed of flowers – definitely the brightest patch of prairie color for miles around.”
See more of Judd’s work:
Kate and Adam Rice
Kate and Adam are award-winning photographers who roam the West in their Sprinter van, searching for all manner of wildlife. They just placed two images in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition! Kate and Adam lead tours and workshops in Alaska and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
About the photo: “We did multiple trips for brown bears this summer and this sow and her little hitch-hiking cub were definitely a highlight. This little one was on mom’s back every chance he got, and here he is taking in the view as she searches for salmon.”
See more from Kate and Adam:
Ken and I have crossed paths several times shooting wildlife and birds in the Pacific Northwest and in Yellowstone. Having worked for decades in journalism, Ken now leads photo tours in North and Latin America.
About the photo: “During the San Juan Island portion of our first Eagles & Orcas photography workshop of 2022 we learned early in the morning that our scheduled boat ride into the Salish Sea to photograph orcas was canceled due to high winds and stormy seas. Fortunately, the Island has many photographic options for us and while exploring we discovered a red fox den with five very active and playful kits. We were able to set up our gear about 75 yards from the den and soon learned that the fox family were not affected by our presence in the least, as the vixen paused in an open area near the den and called to her kits, offering them a freshly caught bird.
At one point both fox parents had returned to the den area with food at the same time. Soon afterward they joined in the playful fox games. To see and photograph the parents relax for a few moments and playfully join the kits in the fun was an unforgettable experience.”
I met Marcus during the Wildlife Photographer of the Year festivities in London in 2019. Since then, he has been named a category winner in the prestigious European Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Marcus is also a contributor to the Remembering Wildlife book series, and has created a series of travel photo essays for The New York Times. He has been heavily involved documenting subjects for the African Parks Network, and covers everything from the wildlife of the Kalahari to the environmental issues back home in Sweden.
About the photo: “For something a bit different, this is a photo from African Parks’ elephant translocation in Malawi earlier this year, when 263 elephants were moved from Liwonde to Kasungu. The actual moving was done by Conservation Solutions, a South African-based company specialising in this type of thing. Very interesting to be there on the ground!”
See more of Marcus’s work:
Mike is a photographer and writer based in Jackson. Some of his recent projects focused on the night sky and the Arizona Trail, resulting in the published book, Wanderlove. He has presented at TEDxJacksonHole and guides in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
About the photo: “In early December I was driving toward the backside of the National Elk Refuge to begin my day much like each other day in early winter. However, while driving along Highway 89 toward the town of Jackson and along the west side of the refuge, I was struck by an unusual pattern draped over the west side of Miller Butte. As I stared at it longer, I was able to make out that it was hundreds, or even thousands of elk migrating up the butte. I then realized I should really take a photo of it. (Assuming my last week of December doesn’t produce anything this nice), it not only became one of my favorite black and white photos I’ve ever taken, but a fitting end to a year that saw me getting back to all the reasons I initially moved to Jackson Hole to begin with.”
Ripan is a photographer based in India who specialized in macro photography. He is a multiple award winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition (including the prestigious Wildlife Portfolio win in 2020), and has yet another image in this year’s winners gallery.
About the photo: “These Red Fiddler Crabs live in mangrove soil. They are very small in size, a few centimetres in length. Called the “engineers of mangroves,” they aerate the soil by digging holes in the ground (which they use as burrows). They mostly come out of the holes for food and reproduction. I took this picture in the Sunderban Tiger reserve, in India.”
See more of Ripan’s work:
Sean and I have crossed paths both in Yellowstone and Alaska, and this is his first time participating in the Peers’ collection. He has an award-winning background in sports photography, has worked for Kodak, and leads tours in Alaska. Sean is also the North American rep for Photography Experts, and recruited me to present for that platform this year.
About the photo: “Bobcats have been a favorite species of mine over the years, even well before I was old enough to learn how to use a camera. I still have fond memories of a neighborhood bobcat roaming through our yard at night when I was a child. I only ever saw quick glances of the bobcat which led me to become fascinated with them immediately. Fast forward to my path in wildlife photography, especially in my early days, finding a bobcat to photograph proved just as difficult as it was for me to locate one as a little kid. Bobcats are ubiquitous throughout North America but are still quite elusive. That said, there are locations where a photographer can find multiple bobcats in a given area, but being able to photograph two adult cats in the same frame is a unique opportunity (at least for me).
“The scene in this photograph is not one I would call a friendly visit, but more of a sneak attack waiting to happen. I was photographing the female bobcat in the foreground when a photographer friend and I saw a male approaching as if he were hunting. I recognized the potential and decided to move to an angle where I might be able to capture both cats in the same frame. I, of course, had to be careful not to disturb the bobcats but was excited for what might happen. The action unfolded quickly, and I was able to grab this shot of the male in hunting mode right before he lunged out for the sneak attack. The female caught a glimpse of the male in the nick of time and was able to escape safely… and even went on to preen on a hillside nearby.”
See more of Sean’s work:
Tin Man Lee
It’s nice to have Tin Man contributing once again, even though he didn’t get out to shoot much. Tin Man, of course, is an award-winning photographer (including a grand prize win in Nature’s Best and People’s Choice nominee in Wildlife Photographer of the Year) with a massive following. He has been featured as a judge in prestigious competitions, and is heavily involved in giving online talks and seminars for his clients.
About the photo: “Our group came upon a curious and playful coastal brown bear spring cub in Alaska. She was full of energy. During low tides, she would follow her mother to look for clams. I was trying a low angle which would effectively show the cub looking up with one paw raised. The distant grass, trees and sky created a soothing bokeh which I liked.”
See more of Tin Man’s work:
I was excited to invite William into the fold this year. I’ve been following his work on Instagram for a while, and admire that we’re kindred spirits. He really enjoys exploring black and white imagery, and consistently presents some bold and effective monochrome scenes. William works and guides primarily in Africa, and is a co-founder of the South African Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards.
About the photo: “There is nothing more graceful than seeing a leopard moving through the canopy of a large tree. After failing to catch a vervet monkey that it had cornered up this incredible false Mopane tree, the young female leopard made her descent. I chose to overexpose the capture to create a high-key image that retained the beautiful detail and texture of the tree. Photographed in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.”
See more from William:
More top work from my peers, by year: