Paul Nicklen



Paul Nicklen (Canadian) is a visual artist and marine biologist who has documented both the beauty and the plight of our planet for over 20 years. Paul’s photography informs and connects by creating an emotional bond with wild subjects in extreme conditions.

After a 20-year career of photographing for journalistic publications like National Geographic, Paul’s perpetuating dream is to revisit his archives for the true artistic gems and release them to the world. His ongoing journey is to continue photographing intimate, evocative, powerful subject matter to create a thought-provoking body of work. Paul hopes his viewers look into the eyes of the animals in his photographs and fall in love with their vulnerability.

In addition to being one of the world’s most renowned nature photographers, Paul is a well-known speaker, TED Talks participant, author, and National Geographic Fellow. In the past two decades, Paul has collaborated with scientists, filmmakers, conservationists, and explorers to create awareness and inspire action for global issues such as climate change.

Paul has garnered more than 30 of the highest awards given to any photographer in his field, earning a global following of celebrities, conservationists, and fans.


One of the most respected voices in conservation photography and one of the most influential female photographers in the world, Cristina Mittermeier began her career as a Marine Biologist working in her native Mexico.

For the past twenty-five years, she has dedicated herself to inspiring a global audience to care about the delicate balance between human well-being and healthy ecosystems.

Cristina’s work has exhibited at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, The Miller Gallery in Cincinnati, The Paul Nicklen Gallery in New York, Xposure in the UAE , Art Basel Miami, Terras de Salitre/Mar de Mares Festival in Santiago, The Museum of Plastic Pop-Up in New York, The United Nations Headquarters in association with Disney and Girl Up, and at Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden.

Cristina is the co-founder of SeaLegacy, the founder and former president of the International League of Conservation Photographers, a board member for the WILD Foundation, an advisor on two major Conservation International programs, an esteemed public speaker, and a recipient of multiple internationally recognized awards for her photography. In 2016, Cristina received the Imaging Award for Photographers who Give Back and in 2018 was acknowledged as a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

She is the editor of 26 conservation photography books and her Fine Art Coffee Table book, Amaze, is in its second printing.

Today, Cristina is the Co-founder of the conservation society, SeaLegacy, a National Geographic contributing photographer, a Sony Artisan of Imagery and the editor of 26 coffee table books on conservation issues. She is the first female photographer to reach 1M followers on Instagram and was a 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. She is acknowledged as one of the most Influential Women in Ocean Conservation in 2018 by Ocean Geographic, and The Men’s Journal recently named her as one of the 18 Most Adventurous Women in the World.

Cristina is a pioneer in the use of powerful and emotive imagery to propel conservation efforts. Born in Mexico, Cristina is a marine biologist, photographer, and writer who specializes in issues surrounding fisheries and indigenous cultures.


Paul Nicklen


Paul Nicklen, Ephemeral Palace, 2012, archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist.

CHICAGO – Hilton | Asmus Contemporary today announced a specially curated exhibition of images from the archives of acclaimed National Geographic photographers, filmmakers and marine biologists Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier. “ORIGINS,” will feature works from Nicklen and Mittermeier, co-founders of leading ocean conservancy organization Sea Legacy and partners with nearly 9 million combined followers on Instagram.

There will be an opening event open to the public on Friday, August 27 at 5 p.m. at Hilton | Asmus Contemporary’s new location in the Morgan Arts Complex at 3622 S. Morgan Street. Additionally, Hilton | Asmus Contemporary will host a VIP reception and book signing during the opening week. The Morgan Arts Complex is a newly renovated building dedicated to the arts, design and film in Chicago’s burgeoning arts neighborhood of Bridgeport.

“ORIGINS” runs through Saturday, October 2.

About Paul Nicklen

From ice diving with leopard seals, studying the horizon with lions in Africa, and battling the sub-zero temperatures of the arctic, Canadian born Paul Nicklen has spent the last 20 years documenting both the beauty and the plight of our planet. As one of the world’s most prominent nature photographers, TED Talks favorite (with almost 2.5 million views), Nicklen has used his art to spotlight endangered ecosystems and ignite a global awareness of climate change. After a 20-year career of photographing for prestigious publications including numerous cover images for National Geographic, Nicklen revisited his archives for the true gems to fulfill his lifelong dream of releasing them to the art world.

Nicklen has garnered more than 30 of the highest accolades given to any photographer in his field, earning a global following of prominent individuals, conservationists, and fans. He has published more than 20 stories for National Geographic and has been the recipient of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award and the prestigious World Press Photo award for photojournalism.

In the foreword to Paul Nicklen’s book “Born to Ice”, actor and environmental activist, Leonardo DiCaprio wrote:

“To witness the Arctic and Antarctica through Paul Nicklen’s lens is to experience hope in action. “Born to Ice” showcases the life’s work of an artist whose love for the landscape and each animal in it is so palpable that emotion echoes throughout every image. As a collection, the images build in scope and power, leaving you profoundly affected and deepening your sense of commitment to protect these stunning parts of our planet.” – Leonardo DiCaprio, June 2018

Paul Nicklen, Ice Waterfall, 2014, archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Hilton | Asmus Contemporary.

In addition, Pearl Jam’s recently released album “Gigaton” features Nicklen’s photograph Ice Waterfall on the cover. Pearl Jam management’s Scott Greer, who oversaw the album’s marketing roll-out told Variety Magazine, “The band wanted to scale something globally and create a unique fan experience so that wherever they were in the world, they were all discovering it in the same way at the same time. Everyone interacted with it differently. Some people were walking in front of the animation, and then we saw one little girl tapping on the moving waterfall. That engagement and interaction made it more than just a Pearl Jam album cover — it made it universal.”

About Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier

Mexico City-born Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier, who dedicates her photography towards the conservation movement, is an adventurer, conservationist, writer, photographer and marine biologist who for the past 25 years has been globally recognized as one of the most influential wildlife writers and conservationists.

Mittermeier, a Rolex Brand Ambassador, has received accolades of the highest esteem, including the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, and was named one of National Geographic’s 2018 Adventurers of the Year.

As a ‘National Geographic Woman of Impact’, Mittermeier has worked in more than 100 countries on every continent in the world, reaching an estimated 2.5 billion people and sparking global conversations about climate change.

Christina Mittermeier, Bubblegum, archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Hilton | Asmus Contemporary

In 2015, she co-founded the conservation group Sea Legacy, a non-profit dedicated to protecting the ocean with her partner, Paul Nicklen. Recognized as one of the World’s Top 40 Most Influential Outdoor Photographers by Outdoor Magazine, Mittermeier’s work has been published in hundreds of respected publications, including National Geographic Magazine and TIME. In 2020, she was honored on the She’s Mercedes platform, where she led “Let’s Be Friends”, a mentoring session with five women from around the world to discuss their dreams, shared challenges, and self-worth.

As a biochemical engineer specializing in marine resources and as a regular contributor to the scientific dialogue on the conservation of our planet’s biodiversity, Mittermeier’s work strives to use science to explain the importance of preserving earth’s ecosystem. She is the founder of the International League of Conservation Photographers.

“The whole premise of Sea Legacy is that we’re experts at visual communication, and we’re going to be partnering with like-minded organizations that have the same mission that we do, to save the oceans.” says Mittermeier, “The ocean is the largest ecosystem on our planet, and three billion people depend on coastal and marine resources.”

Global advocate of Hilton | Asmus Contemporary founder Arica Hilton says, “We have decided to make 2021 our year of conservation. By this, I mean every single sale we make in our gallery this year will benefit a variety of conservation organizations, including organizations that support animals, oceans and other natural resources, in addition to our ongoing support of women’s and children’s causes. Through the arts, Hilton | Asmus Contemporary is dedicated to making every single step and every breath we take, have a purpose. A global purpose. A higher purpose. We will be working with artists who search for solutions addressing the plight of our environment and the human condition.”

Reefs of Gardens of the Queen

Conservation in the Time of Corona

The new decade has brought with it some unexpected challenges, but those same obstacles have given us an opportunity to focus on reaching out to our online community, and to explore new methods of digital story telling.

At this time when science is critical for our survival and art is necessary for our sanity, the conservation photography of Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier is the perfect union of these two complementary paradigms. Hilton Asmus Contemporary couldn’t be representing a more inspirational and dedicated pair of humans.


Paul Nicklen is an acclaimed National Geographic photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist who has spent the last twenty years documenting the natural beauty of our planet in an effort to illustrate the plights of critical species and their fragile ecosystems, while advocating for their protection. As a National Geographic assignment photographer, he is particularly famous for his awe-inspiring images of polar wilderness regions and the unique animals that call these harsh and rugged habitats home. Nicklen’s sensitive and evocative imagery has garnered many of the highest awards given to any photographer in his field, including the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the prestigious World Press Photo for Photojournalism.


Cristina Mittermeier is a marine biologist, photographer, writer, and conservationist. Fifteen years ago, she founded the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) to provide a platform for photographers covering environmental issues. She primarily specializes in creating images related to ocean conservation and indigenous peoples. Mittermeier is recognized as one of the World’s Top 40 Most Influential Outdoor Photographers, was the recipient of Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year Award in 2010, and was named one of National Geographic’s 2018 Adventurers of the Year. Cristina’s work has appeared in hundreds of publications, including National Geographic Magazine, McLean’s and TIME.
​Together, Cristina and Paul founded SeaLegacy in 2014. The goal of this Canadian nonprofit is to “bring together the world’s best photographers, conservationists, scientists, storytellers and strategists to lead a bold new movement to engage one billion people in ocean conservation.” SeaLegacy’s three-pronged approach of leading expeditions, fueling campaigns, and implementing solutions is united by a focus on extraordinary visual storytelling. “I’m fortunate to be able to lead some of the world’s best photographers and film makers to the farthest corners of our oceans,” says Paul. “It’s our job to bring the oceans to you.” SeaLegacy uses its massive media footprint of over six million followers to rally global support for projects that invest in community-centered solutions that help build healthy and abundant marine ecosystems. As Cristina explains, “Extraordinary opportunities exist to restore and sustainably develop our oceans in order to protect them and sustain all life on this planet.”


​It’s a privilege for us at Hilton Asmus Contemporary to represent the gorgeous work of this truly visionary team. Paul and Cristina were kind enough to join us earlier this week from their home in Vancouver for the virtual launch of their show at our gallery. It was enlightening to hear firsthand about their mission at SeaLegacy, and a pleasure to get a peak into their exciting and unique lives. Two nights in a row – April 2nd and 3rd – they transported us all over the planet with their stories. Paul closed out the live Instagram feed last night by regaling us with a tale of a Grizzly bear he called Morris who chose to eat his salmon dinner right next to Paul while he sipped on a nightcap. These lively and personal background narratives bring the photos to life.
Once it’s safe to start going back to our regular activities, we can’t wait to invite everyone to come to the gallery and enjoy each one of these stunning images. When you view their photographs, they pull you in and hold your attention, making you yearn to know everything about the subject. The color photos will be a feast for your eyes, while the black and whites will mesmerize you with their details. Each composition is so saturated with life that you’ll swear you can hear the ice crunching under your feet, and feel the humid air of the tropics on your skin.

We have dubbed 2020 our Year of Conservation, and the tireless efforts put forth by Paul and Cristina to protect our priceless natural wonders, embody this theme to perfection. Even though we may currently be apart, their art excels at bringing us together, and reminding us how important it is to value and protect every ecosystem on this beautiful planet we are endlessly lucky to call home.

Written By  |  Alex Rose