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Stephen Alvarez - Taking striking photographs of the unending conflicts

Stephen Alvarez, the world famous photojournalist, has presented the world with stories and pictures on various discoveries, traditions, cultures, customs and consequences of various events. He has been associated with the National Geographic society as a photographer since 1995. His award winning pictures are displayed at Visa Pour L’Image International Photojournalism Festival in Perpignan, France.

Early life and career

Born in 1965, Alvarez pursued a B.A. in Comparative Religion from Sewanee: The University of the South.

Stephen Alvarez’s career is quite exciting for he travelled far and wide to photograph several cave explorations and underground landscapes located in the nook and corner of the world. He got his first assignment in 1991 from Time Magazine to cover the explorations in the Mammoth Cave.

The National Geographic assignments

Alvarez’s work at the National Geographic embarked with a remarkable assignment in 1995, for which he needed to crawl up an altitude of 20,000 feet into the Peruvian Andes to photograph the discovery of a 500- year-old Incan Mummy Juanita, the Ice Maiden.

His travelling to Borneo, to document the unearthing of the caves of Sarawak proved to be fruitful enough to aid their conservation. One of his most outstanding expeditions was covering up an excruciating jungle to map Chiquibul, the longest cave in Central America. In Mexico, Alvarez took extra ordinary snapshots of a noxious hydrogen sulfide cave, Cueva de Villa Luz.
In 2001-2002, he again ventured out for National Geographic to take the pictures of the vast desert of the Empty Quarter and the huge caves of Oman on the Selma Plateau including Majlis al Jinn.

In 2004, Alvarez was privileged by a Banff Centre grant for the excellent photographs of the Cave of the Swallows, a deep vertical pit in Mexico. On another National Geographic assignment, Alvarez took breath-taking snapshots of the deepest cave in the world, Voronya Cave, situated 2000 meters underneath the Caucasus Mountains.

Alvarez also documented the Maya and their culture and religious activities and this work was displayed at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France.

In 2006 National Geographic assigned Alvarez to cover the river caves of Papua New Guinea, for which he travelled through the white-water river caves of New Britain. In 2007, Alvarez sailed on the traditional Hawaiian vessel, the Hokule’a to document the story about the most primitive voyager of the Pacific Islands.

In June 2009, Alvarez photographed the caves in the Southeastern United States, including Rumbling Falls cave, Tennessee, which found its place in the National Geographic Magazine.
His latest National Geographic story, which pans the Madagascar’s Tsingy de Bemaraha Stone Forest, was published in November 2009.

His documentation and striking photographs of the unending conflict and violence in north Uganda and Southern Sudan has fetched him several acclamations.

Awards and Exhibits

Alvarez is a proud recipient of a number of accolades and acclamations:

- Communications Arts 48, Editorial Series
- The Aftermath Project Auction 2006
- Uganda/Sudan Border Project 2006
- PDN Photo Annual 2006
- National Geographic Lecture Under the Map 2006
- Visa Pour L’Image Exhibit 2005
- Communications Arts 45
- Pictures of the Year International 2004
- Banff Mountain Centre Grant and Exhibit 2004

Stephen Alvarez presently stays at Sewanee, Tennessee along with his wife and is blessed with two children.

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