Charlie Hamilton James

Charlie Hamilton James is the National Geographic Society ‘Innovation in Photography’ Fellow and a National Geographic Magazine photographer. He specialises in wildlife and conservation photojournalism, predominantly in the Amazon and East Africa.

Charlie’s wildlife photography is technically complex and often involves specially invented and engineered equipment. He works often with camera traps and other forms of remote imaging technology to capture intimate and ground-breaking images of wildlife.

Wild West stand-off © Charlie Hamilton James

Hamilton-James’ work in conservation has become more positive over the years and his more recent stories reflect that – his 2019 National Geographic Magazine story on the rewilding of Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique and his current assignment on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. Previously Charlie has shot stories for National Geographic Magazine ranging from landscape stores to Isola.

When most photographers need equipment, they buy it at a store or online. But Charlie Hamilton James’s work as a photojournalist specializing in wildlife and conservation also requires specialized equipment, such as remote cameras and camera traps, much of which he makes himself. Charlie has a particular interest in exposing “the brilliance of nature” in order to better document, understand, and save it.

Giant Otter © Charlie Hamilton James

He has been obsessed with kingfishers, brightly plumed ambush hunters, since he was six, and describes himself as “an otter nut.” He has since become an authority on both, photographing kingfishers for National Geographic in 2009 and river otters in 2013. Other stories for the magazine have included the plight of vultures, which he calls “the ultimate anti-heroes,” in East and southern Africa.

Much of Charlie’s work is done in North America, East Africa, and the Amazon. A few years ago, he purchased a 100-acre plot of land in Peru, only to learn he had acquired an illegal coca plantation along with it. His adventures and misadventures were featured in the June 2016 issue of National Geographic and a three-part series by the BBC entitled I Bought a Rainforest.

When not in the field photographing, Charlie also does on-air work as a TV presenter for various BBC programs, including Halcyon River Diaries, which documented the year he and his family spent living on the river outside their house. Charlie has been nominated for Emmy awards for his TV production work and twice won the Royal Television Society award for photography.

For the May National Geographic story celebrating the National Park Service centennial in 2016, Charlie went beyond the park’s boundaries from Wyoming into Idaho and Montana to create a portrait of the one of the largest temperate-zone ecosystems on Earth. And in the October 2018 issue Charlie photographed isolated tribes in the Amazon.