In a world teeming with fleeting moments and endless vistas, there are those rare talents who soar above it all, capturing the essence of our planet’s breathtaking beauty. Cameron Davidson, with his keen eye and undeniable talent, is undoubtedly among these visionaries celebrated for his mesmerizing aerial photographs. Through his lens, our world’s landscapes transform into intricate patterns, weaving stories of nature and humanity. As we delve into the world of Cameron Davidson, discover the passion, philosophy, and pursuits that shape his vision from the skies.
Introduction by Melissa Dale, Director of Photography, Marketing & Communications, The Nature Conservancy
I love working with Cameron Davidson! His exquisite aerial images reveal the interconnectedness of our planet’s lands and waters, weather and sky, and people and places. From wetlands and mountains to rivers and prairies, Cameron’s aerial photography surprises and inspires with intriguing views of our world. I’ve worked with Cameron on many stories and consider him a trusted and vital creative partner who helps tell the story of the work we do at The Nature Conservancy. His exceptional technical and logistical skills give me complete faith that he’ll be in the right place at the right time in the right light! On top of that, he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with!
What is it about photography that you are passionate about?
Being outside more than anything. I love shooting graphic forms and patterns; it comes naturally to me, and I love it when I find it.
What is your work philosophy?
Do it once, do it right. Safety always comes first—no shot is worth anyone getting hurt or worse. I like to work with small crews or teams, and I like it when everyone is focused on telling the client’s story in a new way.
Who among your contemporaries today do you most admire?
Hans Strand for his aerial and landscape work, Ragnar Axelson for his long-term projects in the Arctic, Brian Skerry for his dedication to ocean wildlife, David Burnett for always coming up with a unique image in pedestrian situations, Jim Haefner for his architectural work in Michigan, and Tim Griffith for his architectural meanderings across the globe. Also, my friend Todd Korol’s large format portrait work in the Canadian west. My friend Mark Tucker continues to surprise me with his images—he is retired from the business now but keeps shooting for himself.
What is the most difficult challenge you’ve overcome to reach your current position?
Getting past my own doubts and insecurities.
Who have been some of your greatest past influences?
Eric Meola, Jay Maisel, William Garnett, and Bradford Washburn.
What would be your dream assignment?
A mix of portraits and aerial landscapes. I’ve done that a few times with big projects where the client needed someone who could shoot both and have the same sense of design and feel.
Who has been some of your favorite colleagues or clients?
National Geographic to start with, Smithsonian magazine for many years of wonderful assignments, and my recent work for The Nature Conservancy—I appreciate their belief in me. Kimley-Horn has been a fantastic, many-decade corporate client. I shot for Vanity Fair for a few years; Sasha Erwitt and Susan Smith were wonderful people to shoot for.
What are the top things you need from a client in order to do successful work for them?
Transparency of purpose and understanding the process of allowing magic to happen.
What do you consider your greatest professional achievement so far?
Staying alive after so many years in helicopters.
Cameron Davidson was born in Miami, Florida, in 1955. He attended both the Corcoran School of Art and Northern Virginia Community College. In 2012, the United States Post Office published his aerial of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge as part of a series of aerial and satellite images as Forever stamps. He met his archaeologist wife on an assignment for Smithsonian magazine. His work has been published internationally by National Geographic, Smithsonian, Vanity Fair, and Bloomberg BusinessWeek, among others. Six books of his photography have been published, including Over Florida, A Moment of Silence, Washington DC: Our Nation’s Capital, and Chesapeake.