Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier was born in Mexico City in 1966 and grew up in nearby Cuernavaca, in the sunny state of Morelos. She graduated from the ITESM University in Mexico with a degree in Biochemical Engineering in Marine Sciences and later attended the Fine Art Photography program at the Corcoran College for the Arts in Washington, D.C.
As a conservation photographer, Mittermeier dedicates her life to creating images to help the world understand why we must protect wild places. She first discovered her passion for the natural world as a marine biologist working in the Gulf of California and Yucatan Peninsula. It didn’t take long to realize she could have more impact on how people view the planet—and connect to it—through the lens of her camera rather than data spreadsheets. Her images focus the relationship between human cultures—especially indigenous people—and biodiversity.
Mittermeier is co founder and president of SeaLegacy, a Sony Artisan of Imagery, National Geographic photographer, and the editor of 24 fine art books on conservation issues. She is sought-after keynote speaker and presenter.
“Conservation is a puzzle,” says Mittermeier. “Many pieces have to fit together to make things work. For me, the choice to be a photographer is to become a piece of the puzzle. In the absence of that, for me, photography means nothing.”
Mittermeier has worked in over 100 countries, on every continent. Her work builds a greater awareness of human responsibility. It is about the ethical imperative—the urgent reminder—that we are inextricably linked to all other species. We have a duty to act as the keepers of our fellow life forms.
Mittermeier is also the founder and former president of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). She was recognized as one of the world’s top 40 most influential outdoor photographers by Outdoor Magazine, and is the recipient of the 2011 Nature’s Best/Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year award, as well as the North American Nature Photographer’s Association 2010 Mission Award. Mittermeier sits on the board of the WILD Foundation, is part of Conservation International’s Chairman’s Council, and of the advisory board for the Wild Seas and Waters Program and the Marine Wilderness 10 + 10 Project. As a public speaker, she has given presentations in forums ranging from the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to the TEDx stage and the National Geographic Live Speaker series.
Cristina has three adult children. All of them are active in the conservation field. She lives on Vancouver Island, Canada, with her partner Paul Nicklen.