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  • Writer's pictureCristina Mittermeier


My first photography show was at The Great Falls Library in 2003. It was very exciting to be featured in the Sun Gazette regional newspaper.

A Journey Through Art

Lately, I have found myself looking back on my path to becoming an artist and reflecting on what it means to spark change through one’s art. I have heard it said that true change starts from within. But how exactly do we inspire people to look deep within themselves and kindle that kind of everlasting change?

Through the many experiences and chance encounters that have shaped the trajectory of my career as an artist, some moments stand out from the rest. The one constant, however, has always been my passion for crafting images at the intersection of ocean, humanity, and art.

This, I am certain, will never change.

Before I became an artist, I studied biochemical engineering with a focus in the ocean sciences and went on to become a marine scientist in my home country of Mexico. I have always loved the immense beauty and interconnectedness of our planet’s living ecosystems: its verdant island chains, coral reefs, and turquoise tides brimming with wildlife. However, I never felt any desire to pick up a camera until I realized how close these extraordinary places were to disappearing forever. Between rising global temperatures, an endless onslaught of plastic pollution, and rampant development, our planet’s wilds were vanishing before my eyes. I found myself clambering for a way to protect these critical ecosystems and stand with the communities that depend on them for survival. In my search for a means to move people to action to restore our living world, I borrowed a camera and began taking pictures.

Very quickly, I recognized the potential for art to inspire lasting change, and I set out with a newfound purpose: to create images and visual stories that will shift hearts and change minds.

Two of my early images that, until now, have not been published.

I spent my early days learning about apertures and shutter speeds by chasing my two-year-old daughter through our backyard– struggling against the weight of my bulky SLR. I enrolled in the Corcoran School of art and design in Washington, DC, and did my best to balance caring for my two kids and stepson with shooting weddings, taking family portraits, and building my portfolio. My first art show adorned the walls of my local library; the result of squinting at prints for hours in the makeshift darkroom of my basement and hand-gluing photos to card-stock paper with help from my kids. In between late-night photography classes and packing school lunches, I founded the International League of Conservation Photographers and ventured into the field with my camera in hand.

Little by little, I learned to take advantage of negative space and explored where one color shifts into another, making use of light, shadow, and depth of field for stronger compositions. I began testing my new skills across the world, capturing images of different cultures and the incredible people I had the privilege of working with across some of the most remote corners of our planet. Before I knew it, my obsession with photography rivaled my passion for conservation. I had found my voice and was determined to see how loud I could be.

Creating art is a beautiful and messy process, but it always comes with a cost. Along my journey, I found myself pitched against a slew of challenges– some external and some carried within. I wish I could tell you that I have never wavered on my path as an artist and conservationist, but the truth is we must all learn to grapple with doubt, fear, and the unique obstacles presented by balancing family with passion for one’s mission. I had to learn how to silence that voice that says, “you are not enough,” and focus instead on getting people to care about our changing planet.


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