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. Since 2016, she's written a bimonthly column on wildlife photography for Outdoor Photographer magazine. She also serves as a contributing editor to Audubon magazine, and as advisor to the National Audubon Society on photography content and on ethics in bird photography. She's a faculty member of the Summit Series of Photography Workshops. Her work is represented by the National Geographic Image Collection.
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 is a consultant on ethics in wildlife photography. Along with bird expert Kenn Kaufman, she created National Audubon Society's Guide to Ethical Bird Photography. She's advised numerous organizations, publicadtions, and photo contests on ethical best practices in wildlife photography. Currently co-chair of the International League of Conservation Photography's Ethics Committee, she previously served as Chair of the North American Nature Photography Association's Ethics Committee from 2014-18. She remains on the NANPA Ethics committee as a member, and also serves on the NANPA Conservation Committee. She has written on the issue for National Geographic: How to Photograph Wildlife Ethically, as well as a number of other publications. See her Statement on Ethics or view a collection of her writings on ethics here.
In 2020, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology released "Bird Photography with Melissa Groo," an online masterclass in beginning bird photography. It comprises almost 40 videos featuring Melissa's instruction. Melissa's association with the Lab goes back to when she worked in the Bioacoustics Research Department from 2000-2005 on elephant communication. 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.
Melissa's work has appeared on the covers of Audubon, Smithsonian, Natural History, and Outdoor Photographer magazines and in National Wildlife, Living Bird, Natural History, and National Geographic (online). Her completed magazine assignments include stories for Audubon on American flamingos on Great Inagua in the Bahamas, and the White Ibis in Florida, and six stories for Smithsonian magazine: endangered Rothschild's Giraffes in Uganda; Spirit Bears in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest; the spring migration of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska; Snowy Owls at the nest in Utqiagvik, Alaska; Hudsonian Godwits in Chile; and Rosalie Edge/Hawk Mountain Sanctuary. In 2020, she traveled on assignment for National Geographic to the Channel Islands off California to do a story on the Island Fox.
Melissa has received awards and honorable mentions in national and international photography competitions, including Audubon (2015 Grand Prize winner), Nature’s Best, and NANPA. 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.
In 2017, the Melissa Groo Gallery was installed at Audubon Greenwich's Kiernan Hall in Greenwich, Connecticut. The gallery displays and sells her works on metal and paper, and is open every day. Please come for a visit if you're in the area!
Melissa serves as an Ambassador for Project Coyote, and sits on the Advisory Council for Wyoming Untrapped and the Board of Directors for The Little Egg Foundation. She is also a brand ambassador for Tragopan Blinds, Dovetail Workwear, and Weatherwool, proudly endorsing and using their products.
Melissa uses Sony equipment.
Melissa is availablle for photography and/or writing assignments, Instagram takeovers, and licensing and sales of images. Private, one-on-one workshops can also be arranged.
Melissa has extensive experience as a teacher, speaker, and writer, and a Master’s in Education from Stanford University. Contact her for speaking engagements and fees.