Jody MacDonald was born in Ottawa, Canada but moved to Saudi Arabia when she was two years old. Growing up in Saudi Arabia instilled in her a love for adventure and the unknown, and she developed a passion for photography as a way to document her experiences in faraway lands. After returning to Canada and receiving a Bachelor’s in Outdoor Recreation, Jody did various jobs guiding in the mountains of Canada and Alaska and soon took a photo editor job for a large outdoor retailer in Vancouver, Canada. Unfulfilled by a sedentary office job, Jody jumped ship, literally. She began sailing around the world and co-created a business doing five-year world kitesurfing, surfing and paragliding expeditions. She used this as an opportunity to develop her photography skills, and document her adventures in remote locations around the globe.
This included not only the exploits of professional athletes on her journeys but the unique cultures and stories she observed. After a decade of seasickness, hitting coral reefs, contracting various deadly diseases, sharks attacks, and close calls with pirates, she moved to the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho. A place she now calls home.
After more than a decade of covering adventure, Jody couldn’t help but notice the larger issues and problems affecting cultures and the environment. This included the speed at which she witnessed the oceans degrading. It has inspired Jody in more recent years to focus more on cultural and environmental stories like the Bajau sea gypsies of Borneo and the Imragruen fisherman of Mauritania.
Jody MacDonald is an Ambassador for HP and Gitzo and is a freelance photographer for National Geographic, Outside Magazine, the BBC, among others. It’s no surprise that Men’s Journal named Jody one of the 25 most adventurous women of the past 25 years, placing her among extraordinary women like Diana Nyad, Jane Goodall and Lindsey Vonn.
Jody’s ability to capture the seemingly uncapturable has made her a hot commodity in the photography community. She has won numerous awards including Red Bull’s 2016 Illume Category Winner, was named United States Paragliding Association’s Paragliding Photographer of the Year and has been PDN’s The Shot photo contest winner, among others.
Perhaps one of the clients most in line with her passions and values is National Geographic who named her one of nine female photographers who push the limits in 2017. Jody is represented by National Geographic Creative.
Because the magic of Jody MacDonald’s photography and her journey is so inspiring to others, she is a sought-after speaker around the world. At the 2017 TedX conference in Vancouver, Jody was asked to speak on “What is Your Why” where she spoke about adversity being her “Why.” Jody recently spoke at the National Geographic Aveiro Exodus Festival in Portugal. At this festival for travel and adventure photographers and filmmakers, she was able to share her work and inspiration with others.
With so many formative experiences in the outdoors, it was only natural for Jody to develop a passion for the natural world and to use her photography as a platform for cultural and environmental issues. In 2017 she joined The Sea Legacy Collective to documenting marine issues that inspire people to preserve oceans around the world.