Stephen Alvarez

Photojournalist Stephen Alvarez produces global stories about exploration, culture, religion, and the aftermath of conflict. Stephen has been a National Geographic photographer since 1995. His images have won awards in Pictures of the Year International, Communication Arts, and have been exhibited at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France. Recent appearances include NPR, PBS, and CBS Sunday Morning. Stephen lives with his family in Sewanee, Tennessee.
Expedition photographer Stephen Alvarez works on what he calls “the raw edges of the frontier.” “I feel a need to go to the few places that haven’t been cut down yet,” he says.

Alvarez has covered high-altitude archaeology in Peru, conservation in the roadless jungles of Suriname, rain forest research in Costa Rica, and cave exploration in Borneo, Mexico, Belize, Papua New Guinea, Canada, and the United States.

His work at National Geographic began with an assignment, published in June 1996, that took him more than 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) up into the Peruvian Andes to photograph the discovery of a 500-year-old Inca mummy, the Ice Maiden. Next, he documented exploration of the caves of Sarawak, Borneo, in an effort to aid their conservation. In Belize, Alvarez covered an excruciating jungle expedition to map Chiquibul, the longest cave in Central America. He has also photographed an article that featured scientists working in a dangerous hydrogen sulfide cave in Mexico studying clues to the origins of life.

He photographed the expedition into Krubera, the world’s deepest cave, off the coast of the Black Sea. In Papua New Guinea, a dangerous underground survey and expedition took him through the white-water river caves of New Britain. He sailed with the Polynesian Voyaging Society aboard the Hokule’a as part of a story about human migration in the Pacific and photographed the moai of Easter Island under the Milky Way.

Alvarez documented the Maya and their religious rituals in Central America, and this work was exhibited at Visa Pour L’Image in Perpignan, France. He continues to work on a personal project documenting the cycle of violence on the Sudan/Uganda border.

Alvarez has been the recipient of awards from Communication Arts and Pictures of the Year International and a Banff Centre grant.

Alvarez lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife, April, and their two children