Skip to main content
AwardsConservationTravel and destinations

Chris Linder Receives Trailblazer Award

By July 1, 2022July 8th, 2022No Comments
A curious penguin looks toward the camera with a snowy mountain range in the distance. © Chris Linder

© Chris Linder

By Frank Gallagher

Chris Linder is the recipient of NANPA’s 2023 Trailblazer Award for his exceptional work documenting science, especially in the Arctic. Linder is a well-known nature photographer, filmmaker, and lecturer who has a special affinity with polar regions. NANPA’s Trailblazer Award (formerly known as the Vision Award) is given biennially in odd-numbered years to honor an outstanding photographer who “demonstrates a commitment to achieving a positive impact upon nature photography, plus the education of the general public about nature.”

NANPA Awards Committee Chair, Dr. Paul Brooke, said “Chris Linder was awarded the Trailblazer Award for his deep, abiding work on the environment. The committee was most impressed by “The Big Thaw,” his complex take on the melting of permafrost in the Siberian and Alaskan Arctic. His trailblazing work has set the standard for working across disciplines and seeking to solve an environmental catastrophe through photography.”

“Growing up, I never imagined myself as a photographer,” Linder says. “I first served as a meteorology officer in the U. S. Navy and then worked as an oceanographer for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  It was only when I saw the tremendous potential for how photography and video storytelling can be used to educate the public about science that I became a full-time environmental photographer.  It has certainly been a winding path, but looking back, I can see how my all of my life experiences contribute to my photographic and storytelling style.”

The rapidly changing nature of science, the environment and the photography business have forced photographers like Linder to adapt frequently and quickly. “The biggest challenge for me has always been (and remains) getting photographs in front of viewers.  With the exponential proliferation of digital photography online, how do you make your story stand out above the crowd?  This competitive market has required me to adapt to new technologies and strategies while at the same time consistently producing the highest quality work.”

© Chris Linder

There is a strong, maybe growing need for those quality photos he produces, not just among scientists and the general public but also with current and potential partner organizations. “Threats to biodiversity and wild places are growing at an alarming rate,” he says.  “The time has never been more critical for photographers to use their skills to raise awareness and make a difference, whether it’s on a local or global scale. Partnering with conservation organizations is one way to both learn about important environmental issues and get your photographs seen by a wider audience.”

Despite the threats to species and ecosystems, Linder is optimistic. “I’m looking forward to more years of doing what I’ve been doing—telling stories.  Whether it’s working with a science team or documenting a natural history story in my own backyard, the common element that keeps me going is the challenge of weaving together a series of photographs to reveal the bigger picture.”

“The Big Thaw” is a multi-award-winning book about the Arctic permafrost and the environmental threats it faces. Linder provided the stunning photographs that illustrate the book. Not one to rest on his laurels, “I’m currently working on a new hardcover book proposal about Antarctica,” he relates, “the culmination of multiple seasons of work at McMurdo and Palmer stations. I will be sure to let my friends at NANPA know when it’s published!”

Learn more about Chris Linder at his website:

Photo of Chris Linder by Mike Carlowicz.