21 Inspiring Wildlife Photographers to Follow on Instagram

Will Burrard-Lucas

With close to 200,000 followers, Burrard-Lucas is one of the most followed wildlife photographers on Instagram. He is somewhat of a pioneer in the industry, having invented new gadgets including “BeetleCam” and “BeetleCopter”. His "Camtraptions" have helped him to achieve beautiful wildlife images from very unique angles the latest of which includes incredible nighttime images of a highly-elusive black leopard in Kenya.

David Lloyd

One of my personal favourites, David Lloyd is a New Zealand born photographer that has taken some of the best African animal shots out there. He is particularly skilled at capturing portraits that help the viewer to really connect with the subject and prefers to shoot in black and white. Lloyd’s fine art prints are often on exhibition and can be purchased on his website. For those based in the UK, look out for his photography workshops hosted by the British Wildlife Centre.

Konsta Punkka

Based in Helsinki, Finland, Konsta Punkka has managed to develop a style I am in total awe of. His wonderfully unique depiction of woodland animals including bears, foxes, and deer are truly a joy to behold. Most of his shots are moody and dramatic, with many other photographers aiming to emulate his work, but Punkka’s portfolio remains at the very top. A photographer whose work I'd happily decorate my home with.

Melissa Groo

Best known for her bird photography, Melissa Groo's feed contains perfectly composed shots often comprising soft hues and low contrast. Groo also posts some stunning images of mammals if birds aren't your cup of tea.

Brian Skerry

With over half a million Instagram followers, Brian Skerry is one of the most popular wildlife photographers on social media. A wildlife photojournalist for National Geographic magazine, he is an expert in marine wildlife and underwater environments. From the tropical reefs of the Indian Ocean to the freezing waters below the polar ice, Skerry has dedicated more than 10,000 hours capturing amazing underwater images from all over the world.

Richard Peters

Awarded "European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015", Richard Peter's work is artistically composed with a combination of dramatic lighting and a minimalist feel. Most of his images are animal portraits exhibiting intense emotion and expressions. His unique style enables the viewer to engage with the subject in a way that most other photographers can't achieve.

Lee Fisher

Up there with the best photographers on this list, Lee Fisher has an incredible portfolio of wildlife images comprising some of my personal favourite subjects (Lion, Leopard, and Deer). Each image is a work of art in itself and would grace the walls of just about any home.

Shannon Wild

Shannon Wild is an Australian wildlife photographer and cinematographer based mainly in Africa. She is one of the few photographers that has mastered the art of creating vibrant and colourful photos without going too heavy with contrast or saturation. While most of her images contain African animals, she also has some amazing shots from the Arctic.

Shaaz Jung

Shaaz Jung runs his own safari camps in southern India and spends most of his time in the forest. This lifestyle has afforded him the opportunity to capture some of the best images of big cats that I've ever seen. I am particularly in awe of the beautiful leopard shots in his collection.

Austin Thomas

Another top bird photographer who has attracted many Instagram followers for his photos of walking owls and close-up shots of bobbing pelicans. His feed also contains some magnificent images of birds of prey in flight.

Brian Scott

This photographer has nailed the art of animal portraits and has a very similar style to that of Lee Fisher (particularly his black and white lion shots). All of his images have a very clean and crisp feel to them that makes them very pleasing on the eye. His work on birds draws particular attention.

Beverley Joubert

An award winning photographer and videographer, Beverly Joubert works with her husband Dereck to produce some of the most epic wildlife conservation documentaries including "The Last Lions" and "Eye of the Leopard". Most of her images reveal high contrasts with earthy tones. Her feed has a good mix of artistically composed and candid shots.

Sudhir Shivaram

Sudhir Shivaram is an award winning photographer that specialises in wildlife photography learning tours and workshops. Based in Bangalore, India, his work on tigers and Asian leopards are particularly noteworthy. Shivaram is one of the best photographers to follow for those who wish to develop their knowledge and skills in the art of photography.

Jon Cornforth

A great all-rounder with a portfolio of stunning photographs taken on land, underwater, and in the sky. Jon Cornforth is an award winning wilderness photographer that has built up a beautiful collection of images that he shares on his Instagram account. Personally, I'm a big fan of his humpback whale shots taken off the coast of Hawaii.

Suzi Eszterhas

If you're into cute baby animals then Suzi Esztherhas is the one person on this list you should definitely follow on Instagram. Suzi has published over 100 magazine cover and feature stories worldwide, with her stunning images of animal mothers and their young being very popular with followers.

Brendon Cremer

As a professional photo safari guide, Brendon Cremer has the added advantage that comes with knowledge in animal behaviour. His style is unique, with many of his images containing subjects in unorthodox poses. Some of the photos are very candid and his choice of composition is often out of the box, but that's what makes his work so interesting.  

Kaisa Lappalainen

With one of the classiest portfolios on the list, Kaisa Lappalainen has managed to collect a fantastic set of images that cover a diverse range of species. She has managed to develop a series of striking wildlife photos without using heavy contrasts or vibrant hues. I'm a big fan of her work on bears, puffins, and orca.

Morne Hardenberg

As a huge shark fan, I just had to put Morne Hardenberg on the list. Specialising in both photography and cinematography, his Instagram feed contains some spectacular shots of a wide variety of shark species. The Burrard-Lucas of the sea, he has managed to capture many of his photographs from very unique angles.

Joel Sartore

I'm a particular fan of Joel Sartore because he uses his photography to draw attention toward conservation efforts to save endangered species. His animal portraits are incredibly beautiful and the type that one might stare at for hours. Be sure to follow Sartore if you enjoy close-ups and support conservation.

Paul Nicklen

I've saved the wildlife photographer on this list with the most Instagram follows until last. With a whopping three million people following his feed, it's not hard to understand why he has so many fans given his exquisite portfolio. Hands down one of the best conservation photographers in the world, Nicklen is renowned for his marvellous work on both the north and south poles.

If you liked this article, you can also follow updates on similar articles by following my own wildlife photography Instagram account @woodswildlife

Diving "White Death"

Great White Shark Diving

Sharks have always fascinated me and none more so than the infamous great white. Since first watching David Attenborough’s Wildlife on One, I’d envisioned one day experiencing a close up encounter with the most notorious of beasts that lurk the deep blue. Feared by most who step foot into the water, great white sharks have unjustifiably earned themselves a bad reputation through exaggerated media stories and, most notably, the blockbuster film Jaws

The great white shark is listed as a vulnerable species on the IUCN red list, however, estimations made by leading shark biologists state there are fewer than 3,500 individuals, making them more vulnerable to extinction than the tiger. Some sources claim that their population is growing while others argue it is declining. In light of this, I felt it was high time I realised my dream of coming face-to-face with the sharks before it might be too late.

It was during my spell in South Africa that the time had come to bring my long awaited meeting with Carcharodon carcharias to fruitionI had been travelling along the picturesque Garden Route and chose to spend a few days in Hermanus, a quaint little town situated on a mountainous bay and one of the world’s hotspots for whale watching. Between May and September, southern right whales annually migrate from the Antarctic to give birth to their young in the warmer waters of South Africa’s coastline. The town is also situated about a 40-minute drive away from one of the most famous great white shark hotspots in the world, Gansbaai.

I entrusted White Shark Ecoventures to ensure that there would be no chance of disappointment. After a quick breakfast and an induction informing us on all of the safety regulations, we set off out to sea. My initial excitement quickly turned to apprehension as the realisation set in that I would soon be plunging into the water with a one-and-a-half-tonne fish that some call “White Death”. I began to play out disastrous scenarios in my head, asking myself questions such as “What if the cage detaches itself from the boat and we sink toward the seabed?”, and “What if the shark breaks through the cage and gobbles me up?”

Before I knew it, we had arrived at Shark Alley and the boat engines came to a halt. A pair of tuna heads coupled with a bucket full of chum were tossed into the surrounding water and then the wait began. Around half an hour of gazing into the grey/blue void had passed before a large silhouette emerged from the depths of the murky sea. I suspiciously squinted my eyes to block out the glare reflecting off the shimmering surface, and then I was certain. “Shark! shark!”, I excitedly called to the boat captain as the ten-foot-long adolescent male menacingly glided closer toward the starboard side of the boat. Without a moment’s hesitation, we were instructed to put on our snorkels and climb down into the steel cage. Still nervous about all of the potentially catastrophic situations that had been running through my mind, I cautiously lowered myself into the only thing that would separate me from the three sharks that were already circling the boat. Strangely, all of my worries filtered away and were replaced with serenity the moment I entered the water. There was something so tranquil about being alone with my thoughts beneath the ocean swell.

As the first shark gradually appeared from out of the shadows, I remember feeling completely at peace, entirely without fear as the apex predator gracefully edged closer. As he quietly swam by, I couldn’t help but stare intensely into his almost extraterrestrial jet black eyes. Though virtually impossible to distinguish exactly where a great white is directing its gaze, somehow I knew that he was looking at me, sussing me out.

Soon after, two more sharks began to encircle the boat and I found myself surrounded from all angles. I never felt threatened, not once. Sharing a few moments in the cold South African winter waters with the great whites helped me to understand that they had absolutely no interest in causing me any harm, despite a few heavy bumps against the cage. Each shark was only interested in the bait that had lured them into our vicinity in the first place.

It was only when the sharks surged for the glum looking tuna heads that I was reminded of the immense power and killer instinct that great whites possess. With the ability to accelerate from a leisurely swim to incredible speeds in the blink of an eye, each shark would dart toward the bait with eyes rolled back and jaws wide open. On a few occasions, some of the sharks would actually breach, thrashing their streamlined bodies around as they cleared the water surface entirely.

After spending around an hour in complete euphoria in the water, it was finally time to call it a day and we reluctantly headed back to the harbour. I spent the next few days totally in awe of the brief encounter I’d had with one of the greatest forces of nature to inhabit our planet.

Shark populations have been decimated over the past 100 years due to overfishing, trophy hunting, culling and finning. There are some that firmly believe that these atrocities are beneficial to mankind and that due to unprovoked attacks on humans, we would be better off in a world without them. I’d argue that stepping out of our natural environment and into theirs is to provoke a naturally curious animal and that as apex predators, sharks are undoubtedly essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems that we and many other species depend on. Furthermore, attacks on humans are extremely rare and are often a consequence of mistaken identity.

Since that significant day I spent in Shark Alley, thoughts have stirred in my mind about what it would be like to live in a world without great white sharks and how many more species would soon follow them into extinction. As custodians of our beautiful planet, I believe that it is our moral obligation to ensure that this very real possibility does not become a tragic reality.