Laura Crawford Williams is a professional wildlife and conservation photographer known internationally for her award-winning images. A lifelong love of all things wild has fueled her desire to become a successful champion for wildlife and wild lands conservation.
“I don’t understand why we allow the ongoing loss of unique, fragile, and irreplaceable beauty. In a world full of people searching for purpose and meaning, why would we ignore the continued elimination of its wonders? What you permit you promote – this is an important concept that too many people forget.”
In hopes of presenting the natural world as an emissary for its own preservation and enhancement, teach about the natural world through photographic stories, and hopefully, shift egocentric human perspectives toward the environment.
Before my life as a wildlife photographer, I worked for a newly established software company. The hours were long, the work was intense, and by the time the company was sold in 1999, I was thoroughly burned-out. To recharge my depleted battery, I would walk with my dogs in the forests and prairies surrounding my home. A creative spark was ignited and I began carrying a camera as I walked. In 2001, my first published images appeared in National Wildlife Magazine and by 2007, I had been published in National Geographic Magazine. It felt like the pinnacle of success. But, the truth is, I never intended to become a professional wildlife photographer. I was simply doing what I love to do.
I first traveled to southern South America in November of 2007. My photo destination was Argentina. More specifically, La Pampa at Estancia Tierra Fiel with German Ambrosetti as my guide. We had no idea at the time that this trip would lead to our traveling over 250,000 kilometers together in southern South America during the next several years. When I returned home, I created a book of images as a thank you gift for the owners of Tierra Fiel. Their response to the book was familiar; I had seen it from other people, in other places. First, they were surprised and amazed by the beauty and diversity of life within the borders of their own farm. Then, they discovered a new appreciation for species they once considered common and unnoteworthy. With childlike wonder, they reconnected to the cycle of life happening within the landscapes around them. Ultimately, these feelings rekindled their interest and reinforced a sense of pride in the land that had been in their family for years.
My passion isn’t only for taking pictures; I’m happiest when I’m able to share the soul-filling, emotional experience I have while in the field. I work to inspire intellectual curiosity as well. Success comes when I am able to infect others with the same excitement, amusement, and awe that I feel when working with wildlife. That is the most important part of what I love to do.
Before my ‘wild life’ began, life was pretty calm. I earned a Master’s degree at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Biomedical and Surgical Illustration and Bachelor’s degrees in Visual Arts and Scientific Illustration at the University of Georgia. Professional experience outside of photography includes scientific illustration, 3D animation, and educational as well as entertainment software production. Yep, boring.
As nature and wildlife photographers, we become hypocritical when damaging plants and animals while working to tell their stories through photography. Small creatures & plants may go unnoticed, and are even more likely to be disturbed. Gaining knowledge of the subject and its ecosystem, in advance, will help to prevent inadvertent damage and produce better images. The welfare of the subject and its environment must come before all other considerations. A wildlife photographer must also learn and respect laws created to protect plants and animals, seek permission from private landowners for access to privately owned land, and have patience with other photographers and the general public.
Accuracy and truth of content are respected above all other considerations. As a graduate student in Medical and Biological Illustration at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, I worked with doctors, surgeons and scientists to create visual stories and true-to-life representations in a variety of media. In that setting, nothing was more important than accuracy. My eleven years of professional experiences in both the medical and scientific fields of illustration, animation, and educational software development required the same intensive commitment to accuracy.