Jasper Doest is a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine who creates visual stories that explore the relationship between humankind and nature. His series of thought-provoking and award-winning portraits of Japanese snow monkeys elevated him to public prominence as a rising star of wildlife photography a decade ago. Far from resting on his laurels and devoting his energies to a subject for which he is now synonymous, the Dutch-base photographer is pursuing a more photojournalistic style, inspired by his emotional responses to man’s interaction with the environment. Through his photographic work he gives a voice to the natural world and tries to bridge the gap between the natural world and ourselves.
Doest is a true believer in the power of photography to initiate change and is an International League of Conservation Photographers senior fellow and a World Wildlife Fund ambassador.
His series ‘Gone to Waste’, which focusses on white storks (symbol of new life) foraging on landfills in Southern Europe, is a good example of how he likes using cultural human-wildlife relationships to hold a mirror to the human society.
For his most recent story in National Geographic Magazine (March 2020), Doest focussed once more on the Japanese snow monkeys, but this time used a more anthropological approach to understand the chances in the cultural relationship between the macaques and the Japanese. Through this body of work, which received awards in World Press Photo and Wildlife Photographer of the Year, he invites people (not only in Japan, but worldwide) to reevaluate their relationship with animals, which is often deeply rooted within our culture.
Bob and I
His biggest succes however, is an intimate story about a flamingo named Bob that was rescued by his cousin Odette who is a veterinarian in Curaçao. Doest ran into this story by accident, while visiting the island for a family visit. “Everything changed as one morning a flamingo walked into my bedroom,” he says. The documentary series that followed show the bird as it explores its new human environment with a set of well balanced, humanistic yet meaningful imagery. “At some point I had the feeling the images were getting a little bit too funny, and I needed to focus more on the new purpose that my cousin had in mind for Bob,” Doest adds. Odette made Bob the animal ambassador of her conservation education charity FDOC, through which she educates children about their local wildlife on the island. The story became a big succes on social media and was awarded in World Press Photo, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the Sony World Photography Awards. Doest explains: “I think the success is partly due to the fact that this is a positive story, a story that emphasises empathy as the starting point of initiating positive change…which is something we all can relate to.” The story was published in National Geographic Magazine in February 2020 and will be released as a book to raise funds for the conservation work of FDOC.
Jasper Doest is a Leica Ambassador and lectures for the National Geographic LIVE series and has presented at venues such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn and The Royal Geographical Society in London.
“Meet Bob” (book, release April 2020)
World Press Photo: 2019 (2x), 2018
Sony World Photography Awards: 2019 first prize
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: 7x, including first prizes in 2013 & 2019
European Wildlife Photographer of the Year: First prizes in 2009, 2014 & 2015