Art Wolfe's Wild World of Wonders
Art Wolfe’s stunning new photography book, Travels to the Edge: A Photo Odyssey, presents a world-roaming collection of profoundly inspiring images of fragile planetary treasures: wild places, wildlife and tribal peoples.
In this stunning, eye-opening, mind-expanding collection of photographs, veteran photographer Art Wolfe has assembled 130 of his favorite shots taken while wandering the globe for his public television series, Art Wolfe’s Travels to the Edge.
The book is organized geographically, beginning at the tip of South America in Patagonia and proceeding up the continent to Bolivia, Peru and Brazil before detouring to South Georgia Island, Antarctica and the Falklands. From there we journey to Africa (represented by Mali, Togo, Benin, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Madagascar), make a quick foray to Iceland, then roam on to Bhutan, Nepal, India, Mongolia and Japan. Our photo-safari segues to Australia and New Zealand before ending in North America with Alaska, the American Southwest and Baja, Mexico.
Wherever he journeys and whatever he shoots, Wolfe’s images are spellbinding, majestic and moving. I particularly loved his portraits of king penguins on South Georgia Island, a cattle-drawn cart rolling past baobab trees in Madagascar, Buddhist monks dancing in Bhutan, a sect of sadhus sitting around a smoke-swirling morning fire in India, pink-faced, white-maned snow monkeys hot spring-bathing in Japan, a herd of reindeer in Mongolia, dusk-lit Aboriginal dancers in Australia, a green-gradated rain forest in New Zealand and brown bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park.
As this list shows, Wolfe’s subject matter encompasses a wonderfully wide range, from landscapes to wildlife to indigenous peoples. What all these varied images share is the same technical brilliance — and more importantly, the same passion for precisely, evocatively capturing the telling moment. In this, Wolfe’s world-wandering quest is exemplary.
Wolfe describes the origins of this quest in the book’s preface: “My life changed when I was invited to be the photographer for the Ultima Thule Expedition to the Tibetan side of Mount Everest in 1984…. I encountered people who had never seen Westerners before, photographed mountains of incomprehensible scale, caught glimpses of rare wildlife. This experience inspired me to spend my life wandering the planet to capture images of the wild world.
“For thirty years I traveled constantly, chasing the light from continent to continent. At first I was driven to develop my skills and vision, but over time I felt compelled to expand my mission to include the preservation of wildlife and wild places, to document and advocate for tribal people under threat from civilization’s encroachments. This intrusion threatens to obliterate the last wild places and the wondrous animals that live there, which would impoverish our planet for as long as human persist.”
Wolfe’s goal now, he writes, is “to bring the beauty and plight of these places, people, and wildlife to a wider audience.” We are lucky that he is doing so with extraordinarily moving and inspiring art and grace. This book is a visually sumptuous gift that richly stimulates our imagination, stokes our wanderlust, polishes our appreciation, and bestows the critical, compelling call that we must become the stewards of the fragile planetary treasures we all share.
Travels to the Edge: A Photo Odyssey; text and photographs by Art Wolfe; The Mountaineers Books; softcover, 158 pages; $24.95.
The member companies of the Adventure Collection are fueled by the same quest to preserve, protect and appreciate the wild places and peoples of our planet. To whet your wanderlust and plan your next adventure, explore the Collection’s Adventure Trips database of more than 1000 journeys on all seven continents.