JUSTIN BLACK is a photographer, writer, editor, photo workshops and travel organizer, and an affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP). Through both Visionary Wild and Galen Rowell's Mountain Light Photography (1999 – 2009) he has created inspiring and effective educational photographic experiences for thousands of passionate photographers. He is widely recognized as one of the world's leading photo workshops organizers.
A professional photographer since 1995, before founding Visionary Wild he served the ILCP as Executive Director, and for seven years was General Manager and Curator of Mountain Light Gallery.
Justin's photographs have been published by magazines such as National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, Sunset, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer, Rock & Ice, and Nature Conservancy.
Among conservation NGOs that have used his photographs in their campaigns are The Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association, Panthera, Land Trust Alliance, Earth Justice, The Wilderness Society, Conservation International, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, ILCP, and the Wild Foundation.
In 2015, Justin was invited to serve as a judge for the Nature's Best Photography Africa competition. He has also served as an editor and contributor to numerous award-winning photo book projects, including Galen Rowell: A Retrospective; Freshwater: The Essence of Life; The Wealth of Nature: Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, and Human Well-Being; Our National Parks: America's Natural Heritage; as well as Flying South: A Pilot's Inner Journey by Barbara Rowell. His limited edition fine prints are represented by G2 Gallery in Venice, California, and by The Art of Wild in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.
An early career as a travel photographer and image licensing specialist led him to Mountain Light Photography, founded by Galen Rowell – a world-renowned National Geographic photographer, author, and mountaineer – and his wife and business partner, Barbara, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beginning in May of 1999, Justin managed marketing of the Rowell image collection, assisted Galen on assignments and in his workshop program, and taught seminars on nature photography. In April 2002, the Rowells invited Justin to relocate with them to California's scenic Owens Valley as Mountain Light's General Manager. Justin eagerly embraced the sublime Eastern Sierra Nevada landscape as his new home.
Four months later, Galen and Barbara perished in the crash of a chartered plane, leaving behind a tremendous creative and visionary vacuum. Justin went to work, building on the impressive Rowell legacy to reinvigorate Mountain Light by establishing a seasonal series of guest photographer exhibitions, expanding the image collection, and relaunching the highly acclaimed photo workshop program through collaboration with Galen's leading professional peers, including Frans Lanting, Pat O'Hara, Jack Dykinga, John Shaw, and Jeff Foott. In May 2008, Justin's successful efforts were recognized by both Sunset and American Photo magazines, as each magazine featured editorial recommendations of his workshop program at Mountain Light.
After ten years with Mountain Light, Justin was recruited to take over the position of Executive Director of ILCP, a non-profit association of the best photographers worldwide working in the field of environmental conservation. At ILCP, Justin oversaw an explosion of productivity in expeditions, publishing, multimedia production, and the achievement of successful conservation outcomes. He contributed photographic coverage to ILCP's Rapid Assessment Visual Expeditions (RAVE) program, including Flathead Valley (Canada, 2009), Yucatán (Mexico, 2009), and Chesapeake (USA, 2010), as well as a solo project for The Nature Conservancy, documenting the Dragon Run wetland on Virginia's Middle Peninsula. One of Justin's photographs from the Flathead River project appeared as a section opener in the Vancouver Sun newspaper – the first time the threatened watershed received significant coverage in that nationally important media outlet. The photograph was later selected by the United States Senate for display in the U.S. Capitol Building, as Canada and the USA reached an agreement to protect the Flathead.
Justin left his position at ILCP in late 2010 to establish Visionary Wild, building on his successful leadership of the Mountain Light workshop program and applying expertise gained at ILCP to provide superlative workshops and expeditions for passionate photographers seeking to advance to the next level of creativity, quality, purpose, and meaning in their work. His own work continues to evolve in new directions, driven by the ongoing search for extraordinary qualities in our world's dynamic landscapes.
Justin lives in Washington, DC, with his brilliant wife, Lena (Visionary Wild's Director of Operations), and their children Philippe and Alexandra.
Justin Black's limited editions portfolio
Justin's Outdoor Photographer Profile
Bringing focus and meaning to your photography
The Top 40 Nature Photos Project
Justin's Conservation Photography Projects
Justin’s Camera Bag
After using an array of 4x5, medium format, and 35mm film cameras for most of his career, Justin has switched fully to Nikon digital SLRs. His current gear includes:
Nikon D810 (x2)
24mm f/3.5 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor
45mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor
85mm f/2.8 PC-E tilt-shift Nikkor
24mm f/1.4 Sigma Art
35mm f/1.4 Sigma Art
50mm f/1.4 Sigma Art
85mm f/1.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor
200mm f/4 AF-D Micro-Nikkor
500mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor
18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 G AF-S ED Nikkor
24-70mm f/2.8 G AF-S ED Nikkor
70-200mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor
200-400mm f/4.0 G AF-S ED VR Nikkor
Nikon TC-14EII teleconverter
Nikon TC-20EIII teleconverter
Assorted Nikon TTL flash cables
Lumiquest soft boxes
Nikon Circular Polarizer II
Tiffen WW IRND neutral density filters
Really Right Stuff TVC-24L with leveling base and Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead
Gitzo 1028 with RRS BH-25 ballhead
MindShift Rotation 180 Pro
Mindshift Rotation 180 Horizon
Mindshift FirstLight 30L
Think Tank Photo (TTP) Streetwalker Harddrive
TTP Streetwalker Pro
TTP Airport Addicted V2.0
TTP Airport Acceleration
TTP Urban Disguise 50 V2.0