ExplorersBio

George Steinmetz

Photographer

Expeditions Council Grantee

Photo: Aerial view of camels and their shadows

Photograph by George Steinmetz

Photo: Self-portrait of George Steinmetz on a motorized paraglider

Photograph by George Steinmetz

Birthplace: Hollywood, California

Current City: Glen Ridge, New Jersey

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A retired millionaire, but things didn't go according to plan.

How did you get started in your field of work?

I took a year off from studying geophysics at Stanford to go hitchhiking in Africa. I took a camera as I thought I would have opportunities to see things like I had seen on the pages of National Geographic.

What inspires you to dedicate your life to nature?

Curiosity. I love exploring things. I always want to go to the blank spots on a map, or go just a little bit farther. Reality is always more interesting than imagination.

What's a normal day like for you?

In the field I get up an hour or two before sunrise, so that I can be on location and take off with my ultralight just before the sunlight hits the ground. I fly for an hour or two, land, have a little something to eat, and then drive/walk about all day looking for things to photograph until an hour or so after dark. Then it's a quick dinner before ingesting digital photos with captions, giving my crew the next day's plan, and then trying to get five hours of sleep.

Do you have a hero?

Not really. I just try to do the most I can with each day and situation I encounter. Always try to make things 10 percent better than before.

What has been your favorite experience in the field? The most challenging?

It's like the Grateful Dead song "Uncle John's Band": "The best days are the hardest days." By extending yourself, you expand possibilities.

What are your other passions?

My family. If I'm not out taking pictures, I want to be home with my wife and three kids. They add so much richness to my life that I can't imagine not having them to come home to.

What do you do in your free time?

I try to get a few hours of sleep. The only downtime for me is family vacations.

If you could have people do one thing to help save the wilderness, what would it be?

Try to leave no trace of your passage.

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In Their Words

I always want to go to the blank spots on a map, or go just a little bit farther. Reality is always more interesting than imagination.

—George Steinmetz

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