April assembly to showcase photographer

Acclaimed wildlife photographer Art Wolfe will be speaking to the Upper School as part of the Brown Family Speaker Series on April 17.

 In 2001, Abbot and Linda Brown (Russell ’94, David ’96) established the speaker series through a fund to provide an annual assembly with a prominent speaker. The Brown family and President Thomas C. Hudnut select each year’s speaker.

Throughout his 25-year career as a photographer, Wolfe has published more than 60 books of photography in five different languages.

His photographs have been published in Nature’s Best, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, Outdoor Photographer and among other publications.

Wolfe has been awarded honors such as Photographer of the Year by Photo Media magazine in 1996, Outstanding Nature Photographer of the Year by the North American Nature Photography Association in 1998 and the Alfred Eisenstaedt Magazine Photography Award in 2000.

Wolfe uses his workserves as a tool with which he spreads his message of wildlife awareness and preservation. As a result of his zealous work for a national wildlife refuge system, he was awarded the first ever Rachel Carson Award by the National Audubon Society in 1998.

Wolfe’s interest in professional nature photography developed when he went to mountain climbing with his camera in tow, as stated on his website.

Gradually, photographic documentation of his adventures became the principal emphasis of his lifelong pursuit.

He had long been immersed in art as his parents were photographers and graphic designers. He received a fine arts education at the University of Washington.

Wolfe has been called “the most prolific and sensitive recorder of a rapidly vanishing natural world” by President of the Wildlife Preservation Society William Conway.

According to his website, he has shot more than one million photographs in his career and shoots an estimated 2000 rolls of film annually.

In May 2007, Wolfe launched “Travels to the Edge,” a 13-part public television program comprised of video, still imagery and informational narrative.

Many in the Harvard-Westlake community are anxiously anticipating his visit. 

“The extent to which his work communicates to an under-informed world populace is what impresses me most about Art Wolfe’s photography,” photography teacher Keving O’Malley said. “But he doesn’t do it through bombast or hype or over-oxygenated rhetoric. His tools of communication are subtlety, empathy and intensely personal observation.”

O’Malley hopes to arrange for Wolfe to sit in on a photography class and offer his insights in photographic composition, the work that goes into setting up shots, and have students “actually hold some of his photos in their hands.”

“His pictures provide striking evidence of the beauty that our planet possesses and how delicate that beauty is,” AP Environmental Science teacher Dietrich Schuhl said. “More than anything else, Mr. Wolfe has increased our awareness of the world.”

 He also hopes for Wolfe to interact with his students.

Not only that, said Schuhl, but “I think we all could learn from a man who has mastered his art, used it to further our understanding of the world.’’