Martin Oeggerli

Microscopic view of a butterfly egg

Swiss photographer Martin Oeggerli, also known as Micronaut, sees the world as a scientist and an artist. Both perspectives are reflected in his pictures, as he studies the shapes and sublime beauty of the Earth’s smallest living organisms: "I love to explore hidden places and mysterious creatures—the ones that get left behind on the list of people’s most adored pets—living orphans. Concealed by [their] size, various forms of life spend their time quietly, just below the radar of the human eye."

Oeggerli has collected and explored pollen grains, insect eggs, and mites from every corner of the Earth. His images are based on scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Using electrons instead of photons, this technology enables the production of images with magnifications of up to 500,000 times or even more, thereby expanding the limits of traditional photography. To reconstruct colors—which cannot be detected with SEM technology—as faithfully as possible, Oeggerli spends many hours in post-processing. Being a scientist as much as a photographer, he tries to transmit his knowledge by presenting unique insights into scientific phenomena and the unknown territory of the smallest, and most overlooked, creatures. The purpose of his work goes beyond the mere exhibition of beauty: "I also want to broaden people’s awareness that even the smallest living organisms are perfectly 'designed' and well worth … our attention."

Born in Switzerland in 1974, Oeggerli has studied at the University of Basel and holds a doctorate degree in molecular biology. In 2005 he started specializing in SEM imaging and worked as freelance scientific photographer for various clients.

His work has been published by BBC, Nature, Cell, Vogue, and National Geographic. Over the years, he has received numerous awards, including International Photography Awards (2009, 2010), Best Scientific Cover Image (2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014), Best Image of Research (2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010), and the German Prize for Scientific Photography (2009, 2011).