On this week’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we welcome National Geographic photographer Steve Winter back to the program. Winter joined us, in 2016, to discuss his wildlife photography, specifically his work photographing cougars in the hills of Los Angeles, California, and today we will be discussing tigers.
Over the past several years, Winter has been working on stories about tigers, initially in Sumatra, Thailand, and India, but most recently in the United States, where there are more tigers in captivity than exist in their increasingly shrinking natural habitats in Asia. The majority of these tigers are pets, are in sanctuaries, or are used as part of small private zoos and tourist attractions. His most recent story for NatGeo, which was honored with a 2020 World Press Photo award, explores this phenomenon—the good, the bad, and very ugly of it.
We speak with Winter about the production and research for this series, about photographing the animals, as well as the owners, handlers, and tourists, and the dangers of each. We discuss how he utilized his news and documentary skills, in addition to his wildlife photography experience, and about the gear decisions he made to help bring this story to life. We also dig into the practice of breeding, crossbreeding, and maintaining predator cats for profit and the issues of illegal trafficking, tiger farms, and of legitimate sanctuaries. Finally, we focus on the positive changes that have come from Winter’s many stories on the world’s big cats.
Guest: Steve Winter
Photograph © Steve Winter for National Geographic