Brandenburg, Jim

American (1945-)

Jim Brandenburg is captivated by the natural world and has spent his life chronicling the sites he’s seen. Raised on (and enamored with) the prairies of southwestern Minnesota, Brandenburg studied art history in college, but began working as a photojournalist following graduation. He honed his skills taking pictures for a small town newspaper, but was more interested in capturing the flora, fauna and animals he saw around him. For 10 years, he submitted work to the National Geographic Society as a freelancer until finally, in 1978, he was awarded a contract position for National Geographic Magazine. Since then, he has traveled the globe capturing breathtaking images for NG, Life and Newsweek, as well as sharpening his filmmaking skills for the BBC, Dateline NBC and Prime Time Live, to name a few. Some of his noteworthy projects include a set of wildlife stamps designed for the US Postal Service in 1981 and a book-documentary project on the white wolves of Ellesmere Island, who had not been exposed to man until Brandenburg examined their lives.  

In the mid-1990s, Brandenburg set himself the challenge of sharpening and strengthening his photographic eye. Having taken over 300 rolls of film only to see several dozen of these shots published, he began limiting himself to one photograph per day, intensely interrogating the light, his perspective, his subject and more before pushing the button. The resulting shots were published in his book, Chased by the Light. During the last decade, Brandenburg and his wife have also been busy with the Brandenburg Prairie Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the beauty of the Minnesota fields and meadows, while also re-planting and expanding some of the state’s native flora.