Visual Explorer. Pathfinder. Culture Whisperer.
David Guttenfelder has spent more than 25 years as a photojournalist and documentary photographer focusing on geopolitical conflict, conservation, and culture. Over the years, he has been based in Japan, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, and Kenya. In 2011, he helped open a bureau in Pyongyang for the Associated Press, the first western news agency to have an office in North Korea. Since then, David has made more than 40 trips to the isolated country—most of the glimpses we’ve had inside North Korea are thanks to him. One of David’s images of North Korea was named among TIME Magazine's "100 Most Influential Photographs Ever Taken.”
Highly decorated in the world of photojournalism, David is an eight-time World Press Photo Award winner and a seven-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the ICP Infinity Prize for Photojournalism. The Overseas Press Club of America has recognized him with the John Faber, Olivier Rebbot, & Feature Photography awards. Pictures of the Year International and the NPPA have named him Photojournalist of the Year. David has also been recognized for his advertising photography and writing, including honors from the Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity and the 2016 AICP award for best Public Service campaign. His commercial partners read like a who’s who in the world of technology, hospitality and products with names such as Google, Apple, Paramount Pictures, SONY, Mazda, Rimowa, Facebook/Instagram, Hyatt, Airbnb, Huawei, State Farm, Jura Whiskey, and others.
One of the earliest adopters among professional photographers, David has been an industry leader in smartphone photography and social media. TIME magazine named him the inaugural “Instagram Photographer of the Year.” David’s photography has been exhibited worldwide and his work from the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan was part of “War/Photography: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
These days, David divides his time between three primary projects: helping understand the future of energy and electric transportation, continuing his 20+ year coverage of the divided Koreas (supported by a grant from National Geographic Society) and—in what may perhaps be the likely convergence of a long career spent on the frontlines—an inquiry into the restorative power of wilderness for people struggling with physical and emotional traumas.
David studied Kiswahili at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and later graduated with Highest Distinction from the University of Iowa, majoring in Journalism, Cultural Anthropology and African Studies, and being named one of University of Iowa's Notable Alumni. When he’s not on the road, David makes his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Road Tripping to the Future
Drawing from his recent National Geographic cover stories, “The Road to 2070” (April 2020), which looks at the future of Energy, and “The Revolution is Here” (Oct 2021), which looks at the future of Electric Transportation, David takes us on a wild ride across the USA. For these stories, he drove thousands of miles, criss-crossing America in electric cars and motorcycles, on historic roads like Route 66. In the Mojave desert salt flats, he sat behind the wheel of a world land-speed record breaking electric drag racer. This adventure was not without mishaps: with just two miles to spare, David charged his electric car at a remote nudist colony, following the dress code, of course. This in-depth report took him through the production lines of all of the major manufacturers, and the tiniest start-ups, each of them scrambling to revolutionize before it's too late. The journey also included a tour of the crumbling US power infrastructure, including the decommissioned Three Mile Island reactor and the Navajo Coal Plant, and visits to our most innovative renewable energy sites, like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Antelope Valley, California, where you’ll find the densest concentration of wind and solar in the USA.
Photos: courtesy David Guttenfelder
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