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  • January 7, 2014

Michael Nichols on Never Looking Back

“As soon as I was with those animals, I realized I was home in a way, and I knew I could be a voice for things that can’t talk.” —Michael Nichols

Picture of african elephant charging
An elephant charges in response to the photographer’s scent. Dzanga Bai, Central African Republic, 1993.

Michael “Nick” Nichols credits an “obsessive personality” for his years of dedication to photography. He began his career after being drafted into the Vietnam War. “In that space I discovered photography and I kept growing at it,” he said. It was there he started exploring caves and experimenting with gear “to escape the regimentation” of the military.

Nichols is still pushing boundaries to look at stories from unique angles. In “Redwoods: The Super Trees,” Nichols and his team developed a rigging and stitching technique to create a composite of a 300-foot-tall tree.

For his latest project photographing lions in the Serengeti, Nichols used remote controlled helicopters and a camera robot to capture never-before-seen views of his subjects.

He has photographed nearly 30 stories during his time with National Geographic and considers the ultimate success of his photographs to be their influence in creating national parks to protect land for animals. —Caitlin Kleiboer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This video portrait was produced by National Geographic magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. It is part of an ongoing series of conversations with the photographers of the magazine, exploring the power of photography and why this life of imagemaking suits them so well. Learn more about the making of the series and watch the full trailer here.

View more of Michael “Nick” Nichols’ work on his website.

Video Production Credits
Photographer: Michael Nichols
Producers: Pamela Chen, NGM
Chad A. Stevens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Associate Producer: Elyse Lipman, NGM
Editor: Caitlin Kleiboer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camera and Sound: Spencer Millsap, NGM, Shannon Sanders, NGM

There are 14 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Kate
    January 10, 2014

    To breed lions just to make money by letting people hunt and kill them, is disgusting. You people make me sick.

  2. Maggie Davey
    January 10, 2014

    What a wonderful man and how we need men like him in our world! Truly inspiring!

  3. Diane – ColourCraft Photography
    January 10, 2014

    so agree with your comments, once I’d committed, it felt like the genie was out of the box! A moment speak volumes in any language.

  4. Mark Wallin
    January 10, 2014

    Wonderful , I travel the world using the internet ,My fingers get sore some times , just two middle fingers .It’s ok I have 8 others. Well I must say you have gone far ,from home to VN tothe rest of the war. Some vet’s could not handle the war and either killed them selves , lost in drugs or into the forests , Hiding. And then there is you, I applaud you and the spirit that has taken you on a journey .

  5. Tom Kellogg
    January 9, 2014

    I do some wildlife Photography myself after learning it as a trade skill in the military! There’s seems to be a world wide concern that Wild animals all the way from Alaska grizzly,and Brown bears,to other animals around the world about their awareness and intelligence of man and his activities on this planet!

  6. Amrit Damrongsakul
    January 9, 2014

    Wow! thank you, thank you and thank you on behalf of those animals.

  7. Gail Taylor
    January 9, 2014

    Very inspirational

  8. Javon
    January 9, 2014

    You are opening a door in my life my mind body and soul .. I have been so lost and I’m almost 33 yrs old… I want learn more about photography I think I’m destined to explore life this way , I love animals more than I do the human race , I’m not crazy , just a little different. But I truly love your work ! Thank you from the bottom of my heart !

  9. Lucia Maldonado
    January 9, 2014

    Very well said. Photography can change the world… and the world needs to change!! I completely agree!

  10. Cynthia Hever
    January 8, 2014

    Thank you. I aspire to do the same.

  11. doyo jatani duba
    January 8, 2014

    when i was seen your photo i am too joy for it and i feel best thing for my life . so, as we will be friendship for future encourange me by your advice (from ethiopia) thank you so much

  12. doyo jatani
    January 8, 2014

    all of your picture are more appreciate and fascinate us,so continue accordingly and also try to share your photo it again … thank you very much for your support

  13. Raul Fernando Dreher
    January 7, 2014

    Very beatiful, realist and very important notice! I’ m Brazilian man! I cant speak write very well in English…

  14. srimanta ray
    January 7, 2014

    Respected Sir,
    I inspired to hear your short interview. I love your kind words and specially that you said “photography can change the world” and “we can educate people through photography” and ” people can remember the pictures, not my name…” excellent said Sir…. I inspired from you….Thanks for these kind words ….Regards (Namaste in Hindi) Srimanta Ray

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