Melissa Groo 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. She writes a bimonthly column on wildlife photography for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and is a contributing editor to Audubon magazine. Her work is represented by National Geographic Image Collection.
Melissa is passionate about ethics in wildlife photography. She advises the National Audubon Society on photography content and ethics, 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 she served as Chair of NANPA’s Ethics Committee from 2014-18. You can read more about her thoughts on ethics in these Outdoor Photographer articles here and here. She remains on the NANPA Ethics Commitee as a member, and also serves on the Conservation Committee.
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 worked for years at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, on elephant communication in the Bioacoustics Research Program. 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, 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, and the spring migration of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska. Most recently, on assignment for Smithsonian magazine, she traveled to the high Arctic tundra in spring and summer of 2018; the photoessay featuring her images of Snowy Owls at the nest appears in the October 2018 issue.
Melissa has received awards and honorable mentions in national and international photography competitions, including Audubon (2015 Grand Prize winner), Nature’s Best, NANPA, and Birds as Art. 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.
Contact Melissa for speaking engagements, photography and/or writing assignments, and licensing and sales of her images. She is also available as a consultant on ethics in wildlife photography. She has extensive experience as a teacher, speaker, and writer, and a Master’s degree in Education from Stanford University.