Tim Laman ’83 Named Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Tim Laman '83 accepts the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award at the April 2016 Alumni Banquet.
Tim Laman ’83 accepts the Distinguished Alumni Award at the April 2016 Alumni Banquet.

Just six months after being honored by his alma mater with a Distinguished Alumni Award, recognition of field biologist and wildlife photojournalist Dr. Tim Laman ’83 has gone global.

Earlier this week, the standout Hope College graduate was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year by the world-renowned British institution, the Natural History Museum.

In its 52nd year, the competition provides a showcase for the world’s very best nature photography. It is open to competitors worldwide and saw a record 50,000 entries from 95 countries in 2016. Winning photos are showcased online and in a major exhibition at the museum followed by a worldwide tour. As a result, the photographs are seen by millions.

“Entwined Lives” by Tim Laman

Dr. Laman’s winning photo, Entwined Lives, shows an endangered Bornean orangutan in the Indonesian rainforest. It was taken 90 feet above ground in Gunung Palung national park. Tim had to do three days of climbing and use GoPro cameras in order to capture the moment. His other work recognized by the contest includes “Pursued by Fire”, “Road to Destruction” and “End of the Line?”, all helping to raise awareness for the need to protect orangutans, which are declining due to habitat loss.

“I think that photojournalism can have a big impact in conservation because people don’t really appreciate what is going on until they see it themselves.” – Tim Laman ’83

Tim is a freelance photographer and writer on natural history as well as a research associate in the Ornithology Department at Harvard University.  He has been a regular contributor to National Geographic, with a focus on conservation and endangered species, since earning his doctorate from Harvard in 1994.

He and his wife, Boston University anthropologist Cheryl Knott, have long studied the orangutans of Indonesia’s Gunung Palung National Park. Their work was recently highlighted in the television program “Mission Critical: Orangutans on the Edge.” Among other publications, their research has been featured in National Geographic, and they are co-authors of the children’s book “Face to Face with Orangutans.”

Entwined Lives by Tim Laman
“Pursued by Fire” by Tim Laman

In addition to 21 feature stories on a variety of topics in National Geographic through the years, he has been the photographer or author and photographer of 29 articles.  In addition to “Face to Face with Orangutans,” his four books include the landmark “Birds of Paradise: Revealing the World’s Most Extraordinary Birds,” a chronicle of his multi-year effort to document all 39 species of New Guinea’s colorful “Birds of Paradise” for the first time.  He has also co-authored 20 scientific articles, including four based on research that he conducted with faculty while a biology major at Hope.

He has had solo exhibits of his photography featured in France, Japan, the Philippines and multiple cities in the United States, and has delivered more than 50 invited lectures around the world.  He has also received numerous external grants in support of his research, exploration and conservation work, including nine from the National Geographic Society or National Geographic Expeditions Council.  Other honors include an Outstanding Teaching Fellow Award from Harvard.

Entwined Lives by Tim Laman
“End of the Line?” by Tim Laman

Tim has also returned to Hope to speak in conjunction with the opening celebration of the college’s A. Paul Schaap Science Center, and to present an illustrated lecture about the “Birds of Paradise” project—the latter to a capacity audience in the DeWitt Center main theatre on Hope’s campus.

His commitment to his alma mater continues this May as he plans to lead the next trip of the Alumni Travel Program.  Taking place May 9–22, the 14-day adventure on the northern safari circuit of Tanzania will explore four renowned national parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Registration for the trip is now open and is limited to the first 25 guests.

You can read more about this exciting award from some of the news media around the world featuring Tim’s work:

The Guardian
National Geographic
New Scientist

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