"When I began as a photographer, I was taking pictures mostly for myself. When we had children my mindset changed, and now I do the work mostly for them. Because I don't want my kids or anyone else's to grow up one day and only be able to appreciate the wonders of nature in a museum or read about it in a book or see it in a zoo. I feel we are blessed to be stewards of this planet, but in many cases we have forgotten that with this privilege comes responsibility. Photography can be a powerful witness to our short-comings, but also to show that beauty and hope still exists in the natural world. It can help communicate to people why something matters. Conservation photography is an active and powerful tool to begin this process, to start the conversation, to call for action. Time is short.”
Michael Forsberg is a Nebraska native whose 25-year career as a photographer and conservationist has been dedicated to wildlife and conservation stories in North America’s Great Plains, once one of the greatest grassland ecosystems on Earth. His images have been featured in publications including Audubon, National Geographic, Nature Conservancy, and Outdoor Photographer magazines. His fine art prints are in public and private collections, and his solo exhibitions have traveled nationwide.
In 2017, Mike received the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography from the Sierra Club in Washington DC, and the Environmental Impact Award from the North American Nature Photography Association. Also, in 2017 his image of sandhill cranes on the Platte River was selected to illustrate USPS’s Forever stamp celebrating Nebraska’s 150 years of Statehood. In 2000, his photograph of a Nebraska tallgrass prairie was issued as an international airmail stamp as part of the United States Postal Service’s American Scenes Series.
Mike is the author and photographer of On Ancient Wings – The Sandhill Cranes of North America self-published in 2005, and Great Plains – America’s Lingering Wild, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2009. He was featured in the NET Television documentary Crane Song, and co-produced Great Plains – America’s Lingering Wild, based on his book of the same title, released on PBS in 2013.
In 2011, Mike co-founded the Platte Basin Timelapse project (PBT) in partnership with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and NET Television. Today it operates as a long-term multi-media documentary project to inform scientific research, build education content, and tell stories of a Great Plains watershed in motion. A documentary film for PBS, titled Follow the Water based on the project and Mike's traverse across the Platte Basin watershed was released on PBS August 18, 2018.
Currently, Mike serves as contract faculty with the University of Nebraska where he teaches and is a Fellow with the Center for Great Plains Studies and is a faculty fellow with the Daugherty Water for Food Institute.
He is a senior Fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers and is represented by National Geographic Creative.
He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with his family, a cat, and three unruly dogs.
“Mike’s idea of a good time is to hike for miles, with a full pack of gear on, in the dark, into a stiff wind, at twenty below zero, just to sleep in a snowbank beside a stream on the slim chance that trumpeter swans may appear in from of him when the light finally comes. And sometimes they do. And we’re all richer for it.” –Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photographer, November 2011
SELECTED AWARDS AND HONORS
Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, Sierra Club - 2017
Nebraska Statehood Forever Stamp, US Postal Service - 2017
Environmental Impact Award, North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA) - 2017
Nebraska Master Naturalist - 2016
Legislative Resolution 627, the Legislature applauds and commends Michael Forsberg - 2016
Mission Award, North American Nature Photographers Association (NANPA) - 2009
Conservation Education Award, The Wildlife Society - 2004
Highly Commended in the BBC's International Wildlife Photographer of the Year - 2003
Award of Excellence in the Science/Natural History category of the 58th Annual Pictures of the Year (POY) - 2001
SELECTED SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS
ECOLOGY AND SOCIETY
A journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability
Title: Capturing change: the duality of time-lapse imagery to acquire data and depict ecological dynamics
Authors: Emma Brinley Buckley, Craig Allen, Michael Forsberg, Michael Farrell, Andrew Caven
Nebraska Academy of Sciences
Title: Hitching a ride: First record of a Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus) in eastern Nebraska
Authors: Keith Geluso, Michael Forsberg