Keynote Sessions

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Summit 2017 features five keynote speakers over 3 days: Art Wolfe, Joe & Mary Ann McDonald, Jack Dykinga, Christian Ziegler and John Nuhn.


The Tale of Seven Tails: Photographing the Seven Big Cats of the World
Joe and Mary Ann McDonald

Both Joe and Mary Ann love to photograph the big cats, especially Joe. It became his obsession for the pair to photograph the seven big cats of the world, including lions, cheetahs, leopards, pumas, jaguars, tigers and snow leopards. To make it more fun, the couple decided to do this in a one-year time span. They achieved their goal from mid-2012 to mid-2013. From the southern part of Chile to the Pantanal of Brazil, from East Africa through the Indian continent and northward into the Himalayas, the pair hiked, sweated, lived in tents at -25C and got jostled in jeeps over rocky roads to photograph these beautiful big cats. In 2016 they even added another subspecies to the list: the Asiatic lion. Join Joe and Mary Ann as they share the adventures while chasing their dream in the wild and wacky world of wildlife photography.

A Personal Perspective on Nature Photography
John Nuhn

In the more than 50 years John Nuhn has served the publishing and photography industry, he has seen changes in how photography is made, marketed, published and viewed. But even as photographers and editors have embraced new technologies and faced new realities, the fundamentals that make a great image have remained the same. Join him as he merges the growth of his own career with the transformations that have influenced nature images, the photographers who make them and the people who use them, along with what he believes the future holds.

The Achievement of Many
Jack Dykinga– Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Not many people have a second chance at life. I received the gift of a double lung transplant that brought me back from a near-death experience. This life-changing experience afforded me the opportunity to reexamine my life. I realized that virtual armies of health care professionals were all invested in keeping me alive each day. I expanded that realization and discovered that my entire life has been punctuated with “ah ha” moments where various mentors and muses changed my life direction. I’ll showcase certain individuals and their influence. I’ve come to realize, “It takes a village to raise a photographer,” and I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude to so many.

From my days at the Chicago Sun-Times, where I was fortunate enough to win a Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism, to the vast empty deserts I roam today, I’ll share images and lessons learned along the way. While subjects and equipment are always changing; style, ethics and feelings remain constant. It’s the bedrock foundation my life mentors gave me. I am indeed incredibly lucky.

Jungle Spirits: Celebrating Tropical Biodiversity
Christian Ziegler

National Geographic photographer and tropical ecologist Christian Ziegler takes us on a fascinating journey through tropical rainforests around the world, sharing images and experiences from some of his projects. He will begin at a flowering balsa tree in his chosen home, Panama, where he spent months on a scaffold he erected in the rainforest to document the diverse wildlife. We then will hear about his adventures in the Congo basin while taking images of our closest relatives, the bonobos, for the first time in the wild. Farther to the East, we will hear about threatened chameleons on the island of Madagascar and exciting recent discoveries in the world of carnivorous plants. We also will share the long process of his photographing one of the biggest, and yet most elusive and highly endangered birds on the planet, the southern cassowary, in the forests of tropical Queensland. With his photography Christian wants to excite you about the wonders of the natural world and highlight the urgent need for effective conservation.

Earth Is My Witness
Art Wolfe

Wolfe presents an encyclopedic selection of his photography along with intimate stories about his encounters that exemplify his boundless curiosity about the world. From the rich sights and smells of the Pushkar Camel Fair to the moment when a polar bear and her cubs leave their arctic den, these images represent what Wolfe has lived for: the instants when circumstance, light, and subject miraculously collide to form an iconic photograph. Together, these images and the stories behind them explore the delicate interconnectivity of life across our planet. Setting the stage for this fascinating journey is award-winning author and former National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence Wade Davis. Together, Davis and Wolfe present a world that borders on the fantastic but is all the more precious for its fragility. At the heart of Wolfe’s work is the appeal for environmental, cultural, and wildlife preservation, which he makes with beautiful, far-reaching precision in this definitive opus. Uniquely conceived and undeniably breathtaking, Earth Is My Witness is an elegantly crafted masterpiece that will inspire awe, hope, and appreciation for the world we live in.