Magdalena Herrera

Title: More than a pretty picture, a powerful story…

Description: “Wildlife photography differs from classic photojournalism. Whenever I meet wildlife and nature photographers, I’m struck by their often militant approach to their subject and their particular way of working over the long term. As the picture editor of a magazine that publishes such photos, bringing them to the attention of a public passionate about stories from the natural world, it’s the narrative aspect that interests me. The natural and animal worlds, which are under threat, raise questions for us all…

Nowadays, wildlife photography is no longer limited to photographs of beautiful animals – or beautiful photos of animals. It goes much further by highlighting the animal in its environment; its context, its way of life and its relation to man and to a changing world. It’s an evolution that gives wildlife photography a social, environmental and geopolitical dimension.

This is illustrated for me by the work of photographers such as Michael Nichols, a former Magnum photographer who has become a reference in the field. In his early reporting, Nichols put man at the centre of his work. Now he places the animal at the heart of his pictures. Capturing them in dynamic relationship with their world, he manages to tell their stories: his exceptional work on the elephants of Samburu, for instance. Franz Lanting, from Holland, who works for National Geographic, also captures well the relations between wild animals and their rapport with a changing world.

Because what interest me, more than beautiful photos, are powerful stories about our planet, stories about the relationship between wildlife and geography, and the ways animals evolve and adapt to changing territories. This can give rise to fantastic images, sometimes even veritable works of contemporary art.

WIldlife, as such, has no meaning; we are wildlife too!”

: Born in Havana to a family of artists, Magdalena Herrera left Cuba as a child to settle in Paris, where she studied fine art and art history at the Sorbonne before starting her career as a photographer and art director. She has worked in books, print and magazines, spending ten years as Art Director and head of the photo department at National Geographic France before joining Geo France as Director of Photography.

Parallel to her journalistic work, Magdalena Herrera runs workshops and seminars around the world organized by the World Press Photo Foundation. She is a tutor in photography at the Noorderlicht Masterclass at Groningen, Holland, and at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, India, as well as for the Fokal foundation in Haiti. She has taught photojournalism at Sciences Po, Paris.

Her experience and her eye for photography mean that she is regularly solicited as a Jury Member at international photography competitions, among them, in 2014 in the United Kingdom the 50th BBC/Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year award.