Nature Whisperer. Illuminator of the Invisible. Mad Scientist.
Anand Varma grew up exploring the woods near his childhood home in Atlanta, Georgia. As a teenager, he picked up his dad’s old camera on a whim and found that he could use it to feed his curiosity about the natural world—and to share his discoveries with others. He began photographing natural history subjects in earnest while studying Integrative Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He went on to spend several years assisting photographer David Liittschwager before receiving a National Geographic Young Explorer Grant to document the wetlands of Patagonia in 2010.
Anand now uses photography to share the science and stories behind things the naked eye cannot perceive—everything from honeybee growth inside a colony, to the mechanics of hummingbird flight, to the mating practices of jellyfish, to hunting habits of vampire bats in the Yucatan rainforest.
He has photographed numerous stories for National Geographic magazine including the 2014 cover story, “Mindsuckers”—inspired by Varma’s work at UC Berkeley—revealing the story of the world’s most resourceful parasites, the kind that can alter their hosts’ DNA and even control their minds. His recognitions include National Geographic Emerging Explorer (class of 2017), Media Innovation Fellow, Civic Science Fellow, and World Press Photo Award for best nature story. Anand lives in Berkeley, California, where he’s converted a room in his home to a science fiction-looking lab, complete with wind tunnels, tanks, black lights, and every manner of photographic equipment.
Through his award-winning images, videos, and storytelling, Varma reveals the invisible details around us to help spark a sense of wonder about our natural world.
In photographer Anand Varma’s hands, a camera is not just a tool to capture what he sees—it’s a way to illuminate the layers of beauty and complexity that are otherwise hidden from the naked eye. He has devoted years of his life to developing innovative techniques—even building some of his own equipment—to create intimate, dramatic and surprising images of nature. His ultimate goal: to spark a sense of wonder about our world.
In this rare and fascinating glimpse into nature, audiences witness a wide range of natural phenomena, including the secret life cycle of the honeybee, the lightning-fast behaviors of hummingbirds, and the terrifying capabilities of parasites. His images and video slow down the fast, speed up the slow and magnify the miniature to reveal worlds just beyond our perception.
Photos: courtesy Anand Varma