THE STORY SO FAR
Stefan Christmann is a nature photographer and filmmaker from Germany. He was an expedition photographer and camera assistant for the BBC Natural History Unit and part of the team that planned and produced the Emperor Penguins episode for BBC Dynasties (narrated by Sir David Attenborough), which aired globally in 2018.
His unique images of Antarctica and of the emperor penguin colony of Atka-Bay have been published in National Geographic and BBC Wildlife Magazine as well as in many other publications worldwide. These images have also won many international photography awards, including the prestigious NHM Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio Award in 2019 and the Ocean Photographer of the Year Collective Portfolio Award in 2021.
Stefan cares deeply about the polar regions (and our planet in general) and sincerely hopes that his imagery and scientifically-enriched stories from Antarctica can help save this beautiful habitat and its marvellous inhabitants.
Please don’t hesitate to contact him, should you see areas for co-operation.
This Planet is a Gift to Humanity.
WE NEED TO START TREATING IT LIKE THAT
stefan’s photographic journey
has been far from straightforward and was predominantly shaped by taking chances
With every turn in the road there were challenges, but also the opportunities to learn and to grow as a photographer and human being. Here you can discover some of Stefan’s milestones: from his first steps in the field of photography up to the present day. Feel free to let yourself be inspired by this timeline, but do not treat it as a blueprint for your own one. Instead, embrace your very own challenges and overcome your very own obstacles in the process. It is a very rewarding experience and the key to finding your personal style.
student exchange in montana
In 2002, shortly before finishing his school education of the German Gymnasium, Stefan participated in a student exchange with Skyview High School in Billings, MT. As one of the extracurricular activities, the exchange students and their hosts visited nearby Yellowstone National Park, where Stefan was overwhelmed by the wide landscapes and abundant wildlife of the region. Only equipped with a little digital point&shoot camera however, his images did not capture adequately, what he had seen. He understood in that very moment, that he had to dive deeper into the craft of photography.
first SLR camera
Upon Stefan’s return from the student exchange in summer 2002, his father gave him an old fully manual Minolta SRT-303b analog camera, which he then used to learn everything about apertures and shutter speeds. He took the step back from digital and returned to 35mm slide film in order to understand the very basics of the craft. Nature offered a rich variety of ever-changing subjects and made Stefan fall in love with the wonders of the natural world. Today, he shoots 100% digital and still mainly focuses on nature photography.
a summer in montana
Staying with friends he made during his first visit to Montana, Stefan spent an entire summer in the Rocky Mountain state and took the chance to spend even more time in Yellowstone National Park. Guided by experienced Yellowstone photography veteran Michael H. Francis, he took his first images of bears and coyotes and deepened his connection to the wilderness of the American west. Being advised by a professional photographer in the field was an energizing experience to say the least.
nanpa college scolarship
In 2005 Stefan experienced the first special recognition for his work. As the first international student in the history of the organization, he received a nature photography college scholarship from the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and was consequently invited to join the annual summit in the USA. Meeting some of the most famous and renowned nature photographers in the world was a life-altering experience. Nature photography had become a real passion.
montana state university
Always trying to balance his education and photographic life, Stefan applied for a college student exchange at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. He was accepted into the program and spent an entire year in the vibrant college city beneath the Bridger Mountains. During his studies of physics, photography and music, Stefan and some of his Bozeman friends used every free minute of their time to head out for Yellowstone National Park and spent even more time in this magnificent wilderness. Slowly but steadily, Stefan started creating a cohesive body of work on the oldest National Park of the USA.
first antarctic winter
After receiving his degree in astrophysics from the University of Tübingen, Stefan applied for a research position on the German Antarctic Research Station Neumayer III, run by the Alfred Wegener Institute for polar and marine research. He spent his first winter on the icy continent in 2012 and worked as a geophysicist. Whenever the weather and time allowed, Stefan would visit the nearby emperor penguin colony of Atka-Bay, documenting the unique lifecycle of these flightless birds. When he returned back home, he had created a body of work that showed the life of the emperor penguins in an amount of detail that had never been seen before. His images from the end of the world won him numerous highlights and honorable mentions in international nature photography competitions in the years to follow.
consultant for bbc nhu
In 2014, Stefan was approached by the BBC Natural History Unit in Bristol and assisted the production team in planning an extended shoot in Atka-Bay, Antarctica. At the end of the year he was eventually asked to become part of the film team himself. He would go back to Neumayer Station in order film and photograph the emperor colony for a BBC landmark production called “BBC Dynasties“, as well as keeping the entire crew safe on the ice and shooting the publicity stills for program marketing.
second antarctic winter
At the end of 2016 Stefan went back to Antarctica together with „Team Penguin“, consisting of field director William Lawson and cameraman Lindsay McCrae. The team spent an entire Antarctic winter on Neumayer Station III (where Stefan had wintered the first time as well) and collected incredible footage of the emperor penguin lifecycle, alongside never before seen behavior.
bbc dynasties airs globally
In November 2018, after years of preparation, filming and post-production, the emperor penguin film of the BBC Dynasties series finally aired in the UK on BBC One and even globally a few weeks afterwards. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough himself, the 60-minute film was watched by millions of viewers around the globe. The team’s actions on the icy continent even went viral, when footage of their emperor penguin rescue mission was shown in various news outlets and all over the internet.
wildlife photographer of the year
In October 2019 Stefan received the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio Award from the Natural History Museum of London – one of the most prestigious nature photography awards on the planet. In his body of work called “Penguinlove”, he showed unique insights into the emperor penguins lives and captivated his audience by a story, that is based on love, dedication and cooperation. He received his honors in the Natural History Museum in London, alongside other industry professionals like Charlie Hamilton James and David Doubilet.
national geographic magazine
In June 2020, together with Helen Scales, Stefan published his first ever feature story in National Geographic Magazine. The story was read by millions of people all over the globe. His penguin images even made it onto the covers of the Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Serbian, Dutch and Turkish language editions of the renowned publication. It’s a dream come true that had been roughly 15 years in the making.
In October 2020 Stefan’s first book appeared. “Penguin – A Story of survival” is a collection of Stefan’s best emperor penguin and Antarctica images from 2012 and 2017. It tells the intimate story of Penguin Love, which Stefan introduced with his Wildlife Photographer of the Year portfolio submission. The imagery in the book is enriched by many personal stories and descriptions from his time at the end of the world. It will take you on a journey right into the emperor penguin colony of Atka-Bay. Order your copy here!
ocean photographer of the year
In September 2021, Stefan was awarded the prestigious Ocean Photographer of the Year Collective Portfolio Award, which is a special recognition of his long-held committment towards the emperor penguins of Atka Bay and Antarctica. As a result, Stefan will be receiving a 1-year internship with the SeaLegacy Collective, where his work will stand alongside the work of conservation photography legends like Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier. It is a fantastic opportunity to reach an even larger audience with the very important stories that happen at the end of the world.
stefan returns to antarctica
In November 2022 Stefan returned to Atka Bay in order to assist in the making of two programs for a large streaming content provider. Here he was acting as expedition leader and camera assistant, working with some of the most succesful wildlife filmmakers in the industry. Of course he also brought his camera (this time a Nikon Z9) and was able to capture new wonderful moments with emperor penguins, which had been on his “shotlist” ever since he came back from his BBC Dynasties involvement. Unfortunately these images cannot be shared yet, but make sure to follow him on Instagram (@christmannphoto) to be amongst the first ones to see them.
Spanish (beginner on Duolingo)
Russian (can ask for food ;-))
Nature Photography (award-winning)
Commercial Photography (studio & outdoor)
(images & words)
(Lightroom & Photoshop)
(Final Cut Pro X)
(capture & render)
Basic Drone Operation
Extensive polar experience from wintering twice in Antarctica
Extensive knowledge in planning and supporting film productions
Polar safety, alpine safety, rope rescue techniques
Filming / photographing in extreme weather conditions
Kit maintenance: electronic engineering, soldering, programming
Camera imaging chain expert knowledge
Vehicle operation: car, motorcycle, Skidoo, Pistenbully, Zodiac
“cleans up nicely” 😉
Nikon (DSLR and mirrorless)
Nikon (F and Z), Sigma
Gitzo, Novoflex, Sachtler
will be continued
If you want to stay updated about new projects, publications or upcoming exhibitions and presentations, make sure to visit the NEWS sections of this website.