Born in Mexico, award-winning photojournalist and conservationist Cristina Mittermeier contextualizes the sentiments captured in the photographs, offering readers a visceral connection to the natural universe. Her work focuses on the intersection between humans and nature, aiming to explain the complex issues that surrounds conservation issues and human needs. As President of the International League of Conservation Photographers and one of the Sony Artisan’s of Imagery – one of seven photographers to represent SONY in the world, Mittermeier uses her skills and experiences in photography to protect the planet’s precious resources. Co-founding the non-profit organization Sea Legacy with her partner, photographer Paul Nicklen, she also contributes to the protection of the ocean. For more about this truly inspirational photographer, check out the interview below and visit her website www.cristinamittermeier.com.
How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I am a passionate photographer with a deep concern for the natural world. I use my camera to shed light on issues, people and places, I believe are important in order to protect them.
Whom do you look up to?
I look up to women in leadership roles. It is not easy to get to the top and to do it with elegance and grace. Any lady who can do that without losing herself, has my admiration and respect. An example? Elizabeth Warren.
I also look up to the fearless and the courageus. People who are not afraid of testing the limits, pushing the envelope, and leading us into new crusades. An example? My partner, photographer Paul Nicklen, who has shared with me his underwater world and all its creatures in a way that demands a fearless attitude.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your way of thinking?
I have had great teachers and mentors in my life, including my ex-husband, Dr. Russ Mittermeier, who taught me how to look at science as a tool to protect the natural world and then encouraged me to develop my own vision on how to use photography to do the same.
What made you want to become a photographer?
I became a photographer because I needed a better tool than science to communicate my concerns about the threats to our natural world.
What was your favourite project and why?
I have enjoyed every single project I have ever worked on, especially the ones where we get a conservation win. As I look back to the places and the people I have met and worked with, I can see that my past is littered with thousands of friends and colleagues, who are now an indelible part of my life’s history.
How do you define creativity?
Creativity is an attitude. It demands that you silence the peanut gallery of naysayers and dare put forth big ideas and dreams. Creativty demands that you are fearless and bold; it frees your mind to allow innovation and inspiration. Creativity is something we are all gifted with, but can be lost if we don’t practice, so creativity is also a way of living. Live creatively….I like that.
If you had one advice for someone seeking to live a creative life, what would you tell him?
Practice it every day.
Do you have a favourite quote that describes what you truly believe in?
“The Greatest Threat to Our Planet Is the Belief That Someone Else Will Save It”, Robert Swan. I live by this quote and I make sure I am doing everything I can to save our planet.
What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as a photographer?
There is a moment in the career of every photographer when you must decide if you are able to make a living as a professional photographer. Income is slow to rise and competition is stiff. Making that jump, from hobbist to professional, is the biggest challenge for all photographers.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at 21?
That as a woman, most of the things I was worried about when I was 21 like being slim or having nice hair, truly didn’t matter. I would have spent a lot less time worried about them.
Is there anything for which you would be ready to give up your passion for photography?
If we ever achieve a planet that exists in balance, I would be glad to put down my cameras and just enjoy each sunset.