About Us

Kennan Ward

Being a nature-wildlife photographer is a demanding job… but all the hardship is forgotten when I make eye-to-eye contact with a wild animal, or experience the moment when a window in the clouds opens up, highlighting a landscape… I feel honored to be able to bring the inspiring beauty of nature to others.
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A photographer, videographer and adventurer-naturalist Kennan Ward has written several books about wilderness and wildlife. He has dedicated his life to capturing the rare forms of nature first on film, now digitally. From an endangered rhinoceros, to a heart-melting glance from a grizzly cub, to a threatened elephant, to tribal drummers extinct within a year, to a split-second burst of illuminating lightning, Kennan continues to explore remote regions of the world to bring back messages of uncommon beauty.

College biology courses he took focused his interest on the natural environment. In 1973 he discovered the redwoods of Big Basin State Park in Santa Cruz, California and set up his home base in the area. In 1979 Kennan received a Natural History/Environmental Studies degree from UCSC, and completed independent studies that led to a joint degree in Wildlife Biology. Ten years of work as a Search and Rescue Ranger for the N.P.S. honed his wildlife skills, accelerated his evolution as a natural-light photographer and deepened his love for the outdoors. It was during this time that Yosemite National Park’s weather provided an opportunity for one of his most memorable and unique photographs. In 1980, Kennan had time off from his job as a ranger in Yosemite, two natural occurrences changed the course of Kennan’s professional life. During that period he captured the Half Dome Lightning Strike and Double Rainbow images. Soon, Kennan’s photography became a full-time concern.

In 1994, Kennan published his first book, “Grizzlies in the Wild”, which details both the natural history of Grizzly Bears and Kennan’s personal experiences while photographing them in their native habitat. Kennan’s second book, “Journeys with the Ice Bear”, © 1996, chronicles his experiences with Polar Bears in Arctic Canada and Russia. His third book, “Denali: Reflections of a Naturalist”, © 2000, chronicles 30 years of life experiences in Denali National Park, the so-called “crown jewel” of America’s National Parks System. Also in 2000 Kennan and wife Karen published their first children’s book, “Born to be Wild: The Bears”. In 2001 Kennan published a very special book bringing attention to the stunning natural world of the Alaskan Arctic - “The Last Wilderness: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge”. Kennan has lobbied from Alaska to DC to educate law-makers and congress people about the vast, unspoiled wildernesses of ANWR.

In 2000 Kennan received a prestigious honor from the BBC’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. His image of Polar Bear Relaxing After Play (or “Polar Bear Line-up”) was Highly Commended by the judges. The image was used on all of that year’s advertising and promotion materials.

Kennan’s work has been featured in many national and international magazines, including Audubon, Alaska, BBC Wildlife, National Geographic, Backpacker, GreenPeace, NG Kids, Sierra, Natural History, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, and National Wildlife. His photographs have been used by book publishers such as Scholastic, Globe-Pequot Press, Pearson, Worth Publishing, Scientific American, The Nature Company, and Chanticleer Press. His photos have been published in calendars by the Sierra Club, National Wildlife, World Wildlife Fund, The Ink Group, American Greetings, Avalanche, Brown Trout, and At-A-Glance. He has worked with such distinguished clients as The Ansel Adams Gallery, Monterey Bay Aquarium, The University of California, Alaska Airlines, Princess Cruises, Barton~Cotton, Coldwater Creek and Patagonia.

Karen Ward

Working in the natural landscape with wildlife keeps me focused. The stark beauty of the outdoors brings a calm pace into your life that you can see, hear and feel deep in your soul. This simplicity and connection has always brought me my happiest moments.
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Karen Ward has a deep love of nature. Karen was raised in California in a family of seven children. Piled into a VW bus with her parents and six siblings, and camping their way across the U.S., Karen had the opportunity to visit many of America’s great National Parks and wilderness areas, and to develop a deep and life-long love and appreciation for the natural beauty of the outdoors.

A strong photographer in her own right, Karen married Kennan Ward in 1986, and has since contributed greatly to their stock photography library, as well as keeping their successful publishing business, WildLight Press Inc., organized and on track. The stock business provides stories and imagery to a range of clients including advertisers, small businesses, magazines and publishing houses. Karen’s eye for beauty and her love of the animals being photographed are tangible in her images, which are often more personal and intimate than Kennan’s. Her no-nonsense approach to the world has kept them both out of the path of bears more times than not.

Together in the field, Kennan and Karen Ward have photographed their way across several continents, many countries, and hundreds of national parks, protected and wilderness areas. Traveling 3-6 months per year seeking new images, Kennan and Karen can keep each other laughing and looking forward to the next adventure, from the office, to a tent in the pouring rain! Bringing back photographs and natural history information, the Wards hope that by educating people about the joy and beauty of nature they can help to protect it.

Karen’s photos have been published in text books, calendars, magazines, brochures and on note and post cards. She loves the stock photography business, and the diversity of her job description. Finding a subject in the field, photographing it, editing film or digital capture, selecting images to be sent out on submission, and the excitement of having an image selected for publication, keeps work fun. Balancing the books, creating invoices, shipping postcard, poster and notecard orders, managing a warehouse and studio, plus upkeep on vehicles in California and Alaska keeps life challenging, and never boring! Being able to work with her best friend and husband keeps work a joy.

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