Carrie Vonderhaar: On Assignment: Behind The Camera

On Assignment: Behind the Camera

By Carrie Vonderhaar, Chief Expedition Photographer
Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society

Carrie Vonderhaar has been photographing wildlife, under water and on land, for over a decade. Exploring from the Amazon to the Arctic, she shares her richly illustrated multi-media presentation of behind-the-scenes stories in a warm, and candid manner. By bringing attention to current conservation issues, problems and solutions, while reflecting on her own experiences in the field, Carrie conveys a you-are-there sense of excitement for her audience.

Find out what really happens on a Jean-Michel Cousteau expedition: dive under water with the big and small, such as humpback whales and the pygmy seahorse; assist in the rescue of a stranded orca; camp at 17,000 feet in the freezing, oxygen-scarce High Andes; visit remote indigenous tribes in the Amazon; and descend under water to document massive, hidden oil plumes lurking from the recent Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill. With Carrie’s behind-the-scenes stories as a vehicle for the journey of a lifetime, the audience will come away with a sense of urgency and a feeling of commitment to the environment and its denizens.

To book Carrie for a speaking engagement please email


Known for her insight and ability to captivate audiences with emotional imagery of wildlife and conservation issues, Carrie has been photographing her subjects, under water and on land, for over a decade.

As Chief Expedition Photographer for Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society and a key character from the PBS television series Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures, Carrie has achieved many firsts. She is the first woman to dive Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, off the northern California coast, on a closed-circuit rebreather, and the first woman to work with the Cousteau family as both a topside and underwater camera operator. She is one of the few people to have dived in and photographed all 13 U.S. National Marine Sanctuaries. Carrie was also part of the film team who were the first to dive in and document the massive oil plumes below the ocean’s surface, from the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill disaster, bringing images of the underwater devastation to the public.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, she earned her degrees in fine arts, French language and political science from Wittenberg University. Following advanced studies at Université Rennes in France, Carrie enrolled in the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, where she was recognized with the Outstanding Photographer Award. In 2008, she was presented with the Woman of the Year Award for her conservation photography work from her alma mater, Mount Notre Dame. Most recently, Carrie was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame for her contributions in the Arts and Conservation.

Carrie’s ability to pursue diverse subjects is unique in the field of conservation photography. Her focus includes nearly everything in the sea, from whales to pygmy seahorses, and conservation issues from habitat loss in the Amazon to climate change in the high Arctic.

She spends months at a time in the field, and has explored and photographed extremely different environments, from 17,000 feet in the Andes photographing melting glaciers, to 150 feet under water photographing reef sharks in Fiji. While on assignment with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, Carrie has lived in remote villages in the Amazon, assisted in the rescue of a stranded orca in New Zealand, and traveled in everything from helicopters and float planes to dug out canoes to get the shot.

Carrie’s photographs have graced the covers of numerous magazines, newspapers and the award-winning, coffee-table book America’s Underwater Treasures. She has been published in distinguished publications, such as DIVER, Worth, Sublime, Santa Barbara, Vogue, Men’s Journal, Outside, Outdoor Enthusiast, Reader’s Digest, Paris Match, and Discover, and in countless others worldwide. Her book projects include America’s Underwater Treasures (2007), Explore the National Marine Sanctuaries with Jean-Michel Cousteau, four-book series (2011) and Return to the Amazon (currently in production). She has also photographed for such companies as Paramount Pictures, La Prairie, Gant, Samsonite, Zodiac, and Bombardier.

Her large-scale images have been exhibited in Jackson, Wyoming; Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Monterey, California; Cincinnati, Ohio; New York City and Normandy, France. Most recently Carrie’s work can be seen at a solo exhibit at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco. This exhibit, Retour en Amazonie, features large-scale images from the Return to the Amazon expedition and has been commissioned by the Fondation HSH Prince Albert II de Monaco. A selection of these images will remain with His Serene Highness as part of his personal art collection.

Award-winning conservation photographer, Carrie Vonderhaar continues to pursue stories that will increase awareness about our oceans and our environment. “My hope is to continually challenge myself to find new and artistic ways to create images which both celebrate nature and highlight conservation issues. Photography is a powerful tool that can bring awareness to environmental problems and advocate for change.”