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  • CBS Minnesota

    Minnesota nature photographer Jim Brandenburg wins National Geographic's Lifetime Achievement Award

    By Marielle Mohs,


    Minnesota's Jim Brandenburg wins National Geographic's Lifetime Achievement 02:14

    MEDINA, Minn. -- He's well known for capturing magical moments of animals in the Boundary Waters.

    Jim Brandenburg was never hoping for world-wide fame. But a combination of natural instinct, a good eye, and a passion for nature led to his work gracing the covers of several National Geographic magazine covers. Now, he's won the National Geographic Lifetime Achievement Award, a prestigious honor that's been bestowed to only five others.

    He's won many awards before, including NPPA and Associated Press awards, but he says this one has been the greatest honor.

    "This one nearly shocked me to the point that I thought it was a joke," said Brandenburg, "I feel a little bit embarrassed because I know many that should have had it before me."

    He is originally from Luverne, in the prairies of Rock County in Southern Minnesota. Today, he calls both Long Lake in Medina, and Ely, in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, home.

    One of his most well-known photographs is of a wolf mid-jump between two ice sheets in the high arctic. He says he's had a connection to wolves his entire life.

    "This pack was in a very remote area and didn't have fear of humans, and that was a wonderful experience," Brandenburg recalled.

    The 77-year-old hasn't slowed down just yet. It's his passion for capturing nature that keeps him going. His photography career has taken him all over the world, but his favorite place to take photos is in his home, in Minnesota.

    "It's where I grew up," he says. "The salmon comes home to where it was born. It just makes you feel comfortable."

    Galleries of Brandenburg's work are showcased in his hometown of Luverne, as well as up north in Ely. You can also see his film work he's capture throughout Minnesota playing at the Bell Museum.

    He has more books set to be released and is working on two movies; one about his life in nature, and the other focuses on the natural wonders of the Dolomite Mountians.

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