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Melissa Groo

Conservation storytelling with a master wildlife biographer

Melissa is a wildlife photographer, writer, and conservationist with a passion for educating people about the marvels of the natural world. She believes that photography can be both fine art and a powerful vehicle for storytelling, and considers herself a “wildlife biographer” as much as a wildlife photographer. It is her mission to raise awareness and change minds about not only the extrinsic beauty of animals, but also their intrinsic worth.

Melissa is an Associate Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers. Since 2016, she’s written a bimonthly column on wildlife photography for Outdoor Photographer magazine. She also serves as a contributing editor to Audubon magazine and as advisor to the National Audubon Society on photography content. She’s a faculty member of the Summit Series of Photography Workshops. Her work is represented by the National Geographic Image Collection.

In 2017, Melissa was awarded the Katie O’Brien Lifetime Achievement Award by Audubon Connecticut, for demonstrating exceptional leadership and commitment to the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. She also received NANPA’s Vision Award, given to a photographer every 2 years in recognition of early career excellence, vision and inspiration to others in nature photography, conservation and education.

Melissa is passionate about ethics in wildlife photography. She advises the National Audubon Society on ethics in photography, and created their Guide to Ethical Bird Photography with Kenn Kaufman. She has also advised National Wildlife Magazine and NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) on guidelines for ethical wildlife photography, and served as Chair of NANPA’s Ethics Committee from 2014-18. She remains on the committee as a member and also serves on the NANPA Conservation Committee. She has also recently written on the issue for National Geographic: How to Photograph Wildlife Ethically.

In 2020, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology released “Bird Photography with Melissa Groo,” an online masterclass in beginning bird photography. It comprises almost 40 videos featuring Melissa’s instruction. Melissa’s association with the Lab goes back to when she worked in the Bioacoustics Research Department from 2000-2005 on elephant communication. She was a research assistant for scientist Katy Payne on The Elephant Listening Project, and spent field seasons in the rainforest of central Africa studying forest elephants in the wild, where she learned to listen deeply and watch closely.

Her photographs and articles have been published in numerous magazines including Smithsonian, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer, National Wildlife, Living Bird, and Natural History. Her completed magazine assignments include a story for Audubon on American flamingos on Great Inagua in the Bahamas, and several for Smithsonian magazine: endangered Rothschild’s Giraffes in Uganda, Spirit Bears in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, the spring migration of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska, Snowy Owls at the nest in Utqiagvik, Alaska, and, most recently, Hudsonian Godwits in Chile (not yet published).

In the first few months of 2020, Melissa worked on assignments for National Geographic, Audubon, and Smithsonian, traveling to Chile, California, and Florida..

Melissa has received awards and honorable mentions in national and international photography competitions, including Audubon (2015 Grand Prize winner), Nature’s Best, and NANPA. Her fine art prints are in personal and corporate collections, and have been exhibited in numerous private galleries as well as a number of public venues, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. In 2017, the Melissa Groo Gallery was installed at Audubon Greenwich’s Kiernan Hall in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Learn lessons in ethical wildlife photography