7 of the Best Outdoor/Wildlife Photographers to Follow on Instagram

Instagram is one of the most dominant social media platforms out there today.

And while it may be home to some dank meme pages, the photo-sharing app is also used by some fantastic outdoor photographers.

Following them comes with a certain risk though, as seeing their perfectly curated feeds blossoming with awe-inspiring snapshots from scenic lands all around the world is sure to trigger your wanderlust.

That being said, I love following these talented photographers because they inspire you to get out and see the world.

If you’re looking for some accounts to follow that will help bring some more beauty to your Instagram feed, here are a few of my favorite outdoor photographers.

Chris Burkard

I can’t say enough about this guy. He is hands down one of the most talented photographers out there today.

Whether it’s an aerial shot that gives you a birds-eye-view of Hawaii’s coastal mountains or beach view of surfers riding waves in Alaska, Burkard impresses with every single Instagram post.

What separates Burkard from a lot of other photographers on Instagram is that his feed contains such a wide variety of images. Rarely do two photos look the same, which is more than one can say for a lot of other photographers on the app.

If you like what you see on his profile, make sure to check out his short documentary on Netflix, “Under the Arctic Sky,” where you’ll get a behind the scenes look at one of his most famous photos.

Bertie Gregory

Bertie Gregory is a man who is truly committed to his craft. As documented in his Wildlife series with National Geographic — which you can watch here — Gregory goes all out when it comes to capturing videos and images of wild animals. On camera, he is energetic and always positive, which makes him a very engaging host.

But his images are up there in quality as well, as his feed is full of close encounters with moments that few have been fortunate enough to see.

Cristina Mittermeier

Mittermeier is a co-founder of SeaLegacy, a nonprofit that works towards building a healthy future for our oceans.

Her photography and the images she captures bring awareness to our impact on the environment. And this means that Mittermeier’s Instagram feed occasionally features images that are difficult to look at (and they might piss you off too). But that’s kind of the point.

While the world is certainly beautiful to look at — as well as the creatures that inhabit it — right now there is a lot of harm done to these animals by humans. And Mittermeier sheds light on this fact.

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Extremely sensitive content. Please watch. Photo by @FrancisPerez000. This horrific image of a young pilot whale that lost its tail after being hit by a boat propeller off the coast of the Canary Islands is meant to be a wake up call. Was it hit by a ship, a ferry or a pleasure boat? We will never know, but I have certainly seen many boats traveling at high speeds through sensitive wildlife corridors. Only three people were there to hear the shrilling calls of pain and fear of this young whale as it struggled to swim. The photographer, the marine biologist and the wildlife veterinarian who were called to the scene were not able to help an animal with such a severe injury. All they could do was pull it out of the water and, with the kind of sorrow that can only be understood by people with enough empathy to do what they had to do, they euthanized it. Sparing more unnecessary suffering to an animal with no chance of recovery was what they had to do. What the rest of us need to do is to become more engaged it. Enforcing regulations on vessel speed limits is very difficult but it all begins with awareness and public pressure; the kind that demands that the voices of thousands of people are heard. As angry and sad as this makes me, I am also extremely motivated to do something about this. I am working with @SeaLegacy to create a global movement of people who want to push for legislative changes that prevent this type of accident. You can add your voice to ours by going to the link on my bio.

A post shared by Cristina Mittermeier (@cristinamittermeier) on

Jimmy Chin

Minnesota native, mountain climber, skier, and all around bad ass Jimmy Chin is next on this list.

His images will have one of the two following effects on you:

1.) You’ll be inspired to climb the next big mountain in your life (metaphorical or literal)


2.) You’ll experience an overwhelming sense of vertigo.

For a man who spends a considerable amount of time thousands of feet in the air hanging over cliff edges, the images above and below are just another day on the job. But for other people — y’know, those who don’t scale 15,000-foot mountains — his photographs offer a glimpse of the world from a completely new perspective.

Paul Nicklen

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Warning: Graphic Images. My fifth assignment for National Geographic changed my life in so many beautiful ways. Since the time of Shackleton, leopard seals have had a terrible reputation. I have always loved using my camera to try and dispel myths about misunderstood predators. I put in a proposal to @natgeo to go to Antarctica and get in the water with as many leopard seals as we could in a one month period to learn if they really are these viscous man-eating predators or if they are your typical misunderstood predator. Great whites, polar bears, grizzly bears and every other top predator is simply trying to scratch out a living and very very rarely, humans and predators have a negative encounter. And for that, they are wrongly vilified and demonized. Since I did not know anything about leopard seals, I brought along my now best friend @goranehlme to guide me through the process as he had ample experience with leopard seals underwater. Goran is a beautiful human with a massive heart and a calm energy. The first seal that we encountered was a massive female seal. She was longer than our 12 foot long zodiac and she had to be over a thousand pounds. I slipped into the water and as soon as I did she came racing over to me and started lunging at me in a threat display. But, it was half comical as if she was putting on a show. She soon calmed down and then went and caught a live penguin and tried to feed it to me. She went on to try and feed me penguins for four days straight. The hardest part about this assignment was trying to shoot through the tears of laughter and joy. Unlike my other assignments, I shot this story in the first four days of being in Antarctica and I was expecting it to be my most difficult. The seal did all of the work and I just had to hang on and enjoy the show. I will never forget the experience and I will definitely never forget her. I got in the water with 30 other leopard seals and never once had a negative experience. Join my mailing list (link in bio) to get the full version of the story. #gratitude #adventure #explore #antarctica #love #beauty

A post shared by Paul Nicklen (@paulnicklen) on

Paul Nicklen is the other co-founder of SeaLegacy and he too uses his platform as a photographer to document and share some of the harsher realities of a world where people and animals are having a hard time coexisting.

But he also has some extraordinary stories about his interactions with the animals he photographs — like the one in the post above — and his expertise in his field makes him a must follow for all animal lovers out there.

Nathan Billings

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When the sun sets and the world goes quiet…

A post shared by Nathanael Billings (@nathanaelbillings) on

I know that 130k followers is a lot, but I’m honestly surprised that Billings doesn’t have 10x that amount for how stunning his images are. And yes, it helps that what he is shooting is nothing short of a geological marvel, his talent is undeniable.

His feed is one of the most aesthetically pleasing ones to scroll through and he also often sports a mustache which I definitely appreciate.

Ami Vitale

Ami Vitale’s Instagram has a wide assortment of images — including intimate photos of African villagers and animals.

But perhaps her best photos are those that show the local men and women who work as wildlife keepers interacting with critters of all shapes and sizes. Her photos show the relationships between these animal caretakers and those that they are helping, who can’t help themselves.

I’m a content marketer that has a passion for sustainable businesses and strategies.

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I’m a content marketer that has a passion for sustainable businesses and strategies.

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