He has braved countless territorial rhino attacks that forced him to replace the door of his jeep twice. He has been stalked by jaguars in Brazil, charged by a grizzly in Siberia, and trapped in quicksand in the world’s largest tiger reserve in Myanmar. He’s flown over erupting volcanoes and visited isolated villages where residents had never before seen a blonde foreigner – or a camera. Clearly he is a man willing to endure anything in his pursuit of the perfect image. His name is Steve Winter, one of National Geographic‘s most extraordinary wildlife photographers.

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Tigress cubs at waterhole, India

In an email interview with AUGUSTMAN, we find out what made him pick up photography and his dedication to the conservation of wildlife. Winter said, “My father was an amateur photographer, so I ended up reading his books and magazines. At age seven, I received my first camera from him, and then at age eight I decided I wanted to work for National Geographic. I’ve been working for them for 24 years!”

The young Winter and his dad used to enter Kodak photography competitions as rivals. His dad always came in top place, but he always followed a close second. That gave him the confidence and determination to follow his dream of becoming a National Geographic photographer with a never-give-up attitude of believing in himself to bring him to where he is today.

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Tiger mother and cub

When asked about what he would say to those keen to follow in his footsteps, he said, ” For aspiring photographers, learn to be a visual storyteller. Learn to tell visual stories close to where you live. If you can, find something near you and tell a compelling story close to home. You will not need much money and you can put the time into learning about your subjects and understanding their lives.”

Winter, however, would like to be remembered not for his photography, but for his work as a media director in Panthera, a non-profit organisation dedicated to saving big wild cats. His advice for the world regarding wildlife and environment issues is for people to get involved in conservation issues they feel close to. It does not matter what issue it is. The key is passion. The way to do so is to place pressure on decision makers.

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Snow leopard at night, Husing Valley

Steve Winter will be in Singapore in August to share his gripping tales live on stage, from coming face to face with tigers in India’s Kaziranga National Park to capturing nocturnal adventures a mountain lion in the Hollywood hills. His exhibition entitled, My Nine Lives with Steve Winter, will be held at the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, Concert Hall, on 25 August, 7.30pm. Tickets are on sale now at Sistic.

Photo credits: Steve Winter

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