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Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald has been photographing wildlife professionally for 45 years, beginning as a high school junior with images accepted into National Wildlife Federation’s film library. For the past thirty years Joe has been a full-time professional wildlife photographer, with his images appearing in every major nature or natural history magazine published in the US. He and his wife, Mary Ann, are represented by several stock photo agencies worldwide, including Getty, Corbis, Animals Animals, and Visuals Unlimited.

Joe has published seven books on wildlife photography or on African wildlife. Joe and Mary Ann have been traveling to Africa to lead safaris for the last 27 years, and probably have the world record on Mountain Gorilla treks, with 75 treks to date, with more to come. Joe has photographed in 11 African countries, and 39 worldwide. Their photography tours and workshops now occupy a major portion of their year, and they are in the field for 25 to 35 weeks each year.

In a typical year Joe and Mary Ann travel to India, Brazil, Svalbard, Kenya, Rwanda, Chile, and several US destinations, leading photo safaris for wildlife. Joe’s special interests are the big cats, and in 2013 he photographed all seven of the world’s big cats in a single year, perhaps the first time any photographer has done so. In 2013 Joe won first place in Mammal Behavior in the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition of a jaguar couple fighting, and between Mary and Joe they have had won or placed in this contest 14 times, more than any other husband/wife photography team. Joe’s specialty is both animal portraiture, where he attempts to capture the essence of his subject, and action, capturing unique behavior.

Joe is well known in the field for his expertise in flash and high speed flash action photography, capturing images of rattlesnakes striking, bats in flight, basilisk lizards running across water, and other unique action subjects. When they are home, Joe and Mary Ann teach various photo workshops at their studio and computer lab in Hoot Hollow, edit, or work on ebooks on photography subjects. Joe and Mary Ann shoot Canon equipment, with lenses ranging from 800mm to 16 wide-angle lenses. Joe and Mary are founding members of the North American Nature Photography Association, and Joe has served on that board. They have been using and recommending Gura Gear from its inception, impressed by the pack’s durability and light weight.

Visit Joe's Website

Website and Workshop Information

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Camera Gear

  • Canon EOS 1DX
  • Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III
  • EF 180mm Macro
  • EF 100mm Macro
  • EF 500mm f4
  • EF 800mm f5.6
  • EF 70-300mm
  • EF 28-300mm
  • EF 16-35mm
  • Range IR camera trigger
  • Really Right Stuff tripod and heads
  • Wimberley Gimbal II head
  • Manfrotto Magic and Articulating Arms

Take a look at some of Joe's work

Visit Joe's portfolio to see more.



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