Chris Rainier


Fellow (2006-2013)

Photo: Chris Rainier, photographer

Photograph by Mark Thiessen

Chris Rainier is considered one of the leading documentary photographers working today. His life's mission is to put on film both the remaining natural wilderness and indigenous cultures around the globe and to use images to create social change.

Rainier co-directs the National Geographic Society's Cultural Ethnosphere Program as well as the All Roads Photography Program. He is a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine, specializing in culture; a contributing photographer for National Geographic Adventure magazine; and a correspondent on photography for NPR's Day to Day radio show. Rainier is the photographer for the National Geographic's Enduring Voices, a multi-year project that strives to research and revitalize the world’s most endangered languages.

Rainier has traveled to all seven continents, making extensive expeditions throughout Africa, Antarctica, and New Guinea. His photography has been seen in Time, Life, Smithsonian, the New York Times, Outside and publications of the National Geographic Society. In addition, Rainier has photographed global culture and conflict, famine, and war in such places as Somalia, Sarajevo/Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Iraq.

He has won awards for his photography, including the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award given by the Explorers Club for adventure stories. Rainier's photography has been shown and collected by museums around the world, including the Australian Museum in Sydney, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the International Center of Photography in New York, the George Eastman House International Museum in Rochester, New York, and the United Nations.

In the News

  • Speakers of a ''hidden'' language speak with researchers.

    Hidden Language Recorded

    A language previously unknown to linguists, and spoken by about 800 people has been documented in the mountains of northeast India. Researchers with National Geographic’s Enduring Voices project recorded the Koro language for the first time.

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    Enduring Voices Launches YouTube Channel

    Using YouTube as a platform endangered languages can now reach a global audience.

  • Photo: Kallawaya healers Antonio Condori and Illarion Ramos Condori, Chary, Bolivia

    The Last Speakers

    Linguist K. David Harrison, head of National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project, reports on his quest to document endangered languages.


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    Nat Geo E-Team

    What are Chris Rainier and the rest of the National Geographic Explorers up to? Meet the E-Team and learn about their projects in this interactive mural.

In Their Words

I am a storyteller who uses a camera.

-Chris Rainier


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    Cultures on the Edge

    Chris Rainier captures powerful and compelling images of indigenous cultures whose ways are under threat.


  • Photo: Anselmo Nuyado Ancapichun and Teresa Maripan

    Chile 2011 Expedition Photos

    The Enduring Voices team traveled to Chile to assess the current status of an endangered South American language, Huilliche.

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David Harrison & Chris Rainier

Hear an interview with David Harrison and Chris Rainier on National Geographic Weekend.

  • David Harrison, a linguist at Swarthmore College, and National Geographic Fellow Chris Rainier join Boyd to discuss the Enduring Voices Project. Through this project they work to preserve global languages. Another language dies every 14 days—Harrison and Rainier are trying to slow that trend.

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