The son of commercial artists, Art Wolfe was born on September 13, 1951 in Seattle, Washington, and still calls the city home. He graduated from the University of Washington with Bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and art education in 1975. His photography career has spanned five decades, a remarkable testament to the durability and demand for his images, his expertise, and his passionate advocacy for the environment and indigenous culture. During that time he has worked on every continent, in hundreds of locations, and on a dazzling array of projects.
“It is in the wild places, where the edge of the earth meets the corners of the sky, the human spirit is fed.”—Art Wolfe
Wolfe’s photographic mission is multi-faceted. By employing artistic and journalistic styles, he documents his subjects and educates the viewer. His unique approach to photography is based on his training in the arts and his love of the environment. His goal has always been to win support for conservation issues by “focusing on what’s beautiful on the Earth.” Hailed by William Conway, former president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, as “the most prolific and sensitive recorder of a rapidly vanishing natural world,” Wolfe has taken an estimated two million images in his lifetime and travels nearly nine months out of the year photographing for new projects, leading photographic tours and seminars, and giving inspirational presentations to corporate, educational, conservation and spiritual groups.
In 1978 he published his first book Indian Baskets of the Northwest Coast with the late Dr. Allan Lobb, a close friend and mentor, who also gave Wolfe a start by putting the young photographer’s work into patients’ rooms at Swedish Medical Center. Wolfe was soon photographing for the world’s top magazines such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, Audubon, GEO, and Terre Sauvage. Magazines all over the world publish his photographs and stories, and his work is licensed for retail products and advertising.
Numerous US and international venues have featured monographs of his work as well his traveling exhibits, Travels to the Edge and Beyond the Lens. He has had four major shows at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum, including One World, One Vision. Today his work is available at the Art Wolfe Gallery in Seattle, Rotella Gallery™ in Las Vegas and New York City, as well as online at www.artwolfe.com.
“Art has the broadest range of excellence of any nature photographer I know.”—Galen Rowell
Since 1989 he has published at least one book a year—1997 alone saw seven titles in the United States and abroad. He has released over eighty books, including award-winning The High Himalaya, Water: Worlds between Heaven & Earth, Tribes, Rainforests of the World, Pacific Northwest, Land of Light and Water, as well as numerous children’s titles, including O is for Orca and Animal Action Alphabet. Graphis included his books Light on the Land and the controversial Migrations on its list of the 100 best books published in the 1990s. His books have sold over 500,000 copies and have been translated into eight languages.
In 2000 he formed Wildlands Press and subsequently published much of his signature work: The Living Wild, which has more than 70,000 copies in print worldwide and garnered awards from the National Outdoor Book Awards, Independent Publisher, Applied Arts and Graphis; Africa (2001) and Edge of the Earth, Corner of the Sky (2003), both of which captured significant publishing awards, including IPPY (Independent Publishers), Benjamin Franklin (Publishers Marketing Association), and National Outdoor Book Award. Wolfe’s latest books are Human Canvas, Graphis Photography Annual 2014 gold medal winner; and two instructional texts published by Amphoto Books: an updated edition of the bestselling Art of Photographing Nature and The Art of the Photograph with author Rob Sheppard. Coming in 2014 is Art’s encyclopedic Earth Is My Witness with Insight Editions and an eagerly anticipated second edition of Vanishing Act (Cameron + Company).
“The intensity, texture, and strange density of Art Wolfe’s photographs are truly astonishing.”—Peter Matthiessen
Along with his numerous book and television awards, Wolfe is the proud recipient of the Nature’s Best Photographer of the Year Award, the North American Nature Photography Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the Photographic Society of America’s Progress Medal for his contribution to the advancement of the art and science of photography; he has been awarded with a coveted Alfred Eisenstaedt Magazine Photography Award. The National Audubon Society recognized Wolfe’s work in support of the national wildlife refuge system with its first-ever Rachel Carson Award. In 1999 he was named to the UW Alumni Association’s magazine list of 100 “most famous, fascinating and influential” alumni of the 20th century. He is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers; he is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and has served on the advisory boards for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Wolfe has been a member of Canon’s elite list of renowned photographers Explorers of Light, Microsoft’s Icons of Imaging, Fujifilm’s Talent Team, and Nikon’s NPS Pros.
Wolfe maintains his gallery, stock agency, and production company in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.