Melissa Groo is a wildlife photographer, writer, conservationist, and ethicist 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 profound hope that her images raise awareness and change minds about not only the extrinsic beauty of animals, but also their intrinsic worth.

Melissa is the wildlife photography columnist for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and a contributing editor to Audubon magazine. She is on the faculty of the Summit Series of Photography Workshops and Hog Island Audubon Camp, a speaker for Explore Green, and a judge for the National Audubon Society and BigPicture Natural World photo contests. 

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) on guidelines for ethical wildlife photography. She is Chair of NANPA’s Ethics Committee. You can read more about her thoughts on ethics in this Outdoor Photographer article here.

Melissa was awarded the 2017 Katie O'Brien Lifetime Achievement Award by Audubon Connecticut, as someone who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and commitment to the conservation of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats. She is also the recipient of the NANPA 2017 Vision Award, given to a photographer every two 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 have been published in Smithsonian, Audubon, Outdoor Photographer, Birdwatching, National Wildlife, Living Bird, Natural History, Montana Outdoors, and New York State Conservationist Magazine. Recent magazine assignments include photographing American flamingos in the Bahamas for Audubon magazine (forthcoming), and endangered Rothschild's Giraffes in Uganda for Smithsonian Magazine.

Melissa has received awards and honorable mentions in national and international photography competitions, including Audubon (Grand Prize winner 2015), Nature’s Best, NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association), and Birds as Art. She shows regularly and her fine art prints are in personal and corporate collections. Her photographs have been exhibited at numerous private galleries and a number of public venues, including the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.


North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) 
National Audubon Society
National Wildlife Federation
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
American Bird Conservancy
Canon Professional Services

All of Melissa’s photographs are taken in the wild, in natural light, without any baiting.

She tries her best to disrupt her subjects as little as possible. The welfare of the animal she is photographing is always her first priority.

Contact Melissa at 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. 

Read about Melissa's journey into photography @

Read about Melissa's photography career and philosophy @