Our special guest for the July 9, 2021 Conservation Cat Chat was photographer Jak Wonderly, contributor to the book Searching for the Snow Leopard, Guardian of the High Mountains.
Jak Wonderly is an outdoor commercial and editorial photographer from Sonoma, California. He worked as an animal photographer for National Geographic Society books and National Geographic Kids magazine, creating images of jelly fish, giraffes, snakes, bears, and many other species. His photographs have appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic, Sunset, the Los Angeles Times, Alaska Beyond Magazine, and Ranger Rick, as well as on CNN. He is represented by National Geographic Image Collection.
Jak uses his photography to help raise awareness and funds for select conservation organizations, including the Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Wild Wonders of China. He is passionate about large cats in particular, and his expedition for the Snow Leopard Conservancy to find and photograph snow leopards in the Himalayas was his most challenging and adventurous project yet.
Jak is often seen working with vintage Rolleiflex film cameras, even with wild animals in remote locations, as a way to bring more mindfulness into his photography. “Photography is an opportunity to be present, see the world as beautifully as I can, and share that vision with others. This is not just a job; it’s a life purpose.”
Jak was joined by Outreach Manager Shavaun Kidd, co-author/editor of Searching for the Snow Leopard, Vice-President Ashleigh Lutz-Nelson, and the Conservancy’s Australian Ambassador, Margaret Gee. They talked about the world of wildlife photography and what it’s really like, the challenges and the joys, and how wildlife photography is an integral part of wildlife conservation. Jak also described his trek into the Himalayas and his remarkable experience of encountering the elusive snow leopard.