John Isaac: The Passion of a U.N. Photographer

How this former photojournalist went from shooting the dark side of humanity to capturing the radiance of the world's wildlife.

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Zebras line up for a drink at a watering hole in Namibia's Etosha National Park.John Isaac
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A young male tiger cools off in India's Ranthambore National Park, where tigers now number less than 40 due to poaching.John Isaac
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A "ten-point" elk in the safety of high grass at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.John Isaac
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An elk sitting out the harsh Yellowstone winter.John Isaac
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Bison butting heads in the snow at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.John Isaac
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Sandhill cranes in flight at New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, one of Isaac's favorite places to photograpJohn Isaac
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A puffin with its catch on Maine's Machias Seal Island. "I was on my knees in the blind and spotted a bird sitting on a rock after a dive, but couldn't get off a shot in time," Isaac recalls. "Almost three hours later, he landed there again with a mouthful of fish. It was worth the wait."John Isaac
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An Alaskan bald eagle debating whether John Isaac is worthwhile prey.John Isaac
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A bald eagle scooping a snack from icy Alaskan waters.John Isaac
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A grizzly bear makes a perfect catch in Katmai, Alaska.John Isaac
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A tigress and her cub cuddling in India's Bandhavgarh National Park. The mother was later hit and killed by a jeep in the middle of the night, a suspicious incident still under investigation.John Isaac
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A tiger cub bathing at India's Ranthambore National Park.John Isaac
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A Ranthambore tiger cub practices her stalk. Though two years old, she and two siblings were still being fed by her mother at the time of Isaac's photograph. The mother was killed by poachers last summer after giving birth to another litter.John Isaac
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A Ranthambore tigress cornering a sambar deer at the watering hole.John Isaac
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A tiger owning the watering hole at Bandhavgarh National Park. "I always carry a wide-angle zoom along with my long lenses to capture overall scenes like this," says Isaac.John Isaac
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Proof that cats, here a tiger cub at Bandhavgarh, lick backwards to drink—scooping water into the bottom of their mouths.John Isaac
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A tiger resting in the cool of evening, Bandhavgarh. "Late-day light is wonderful when you have a beautiful model posing for you," says Isaac.John Isaac
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A Bandhavgarh chital deer with its nursing baby, on edge because tigers are prowling nearby.John Isaac
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A group of chital deer poses against the brushy palette of Bandhavgar.John Isaac
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Bandhavgarh tigers after a mudbath.John Isaac
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Namibian zebras race to the watering hole in the morning.John Isaac
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Male zebras sparring near a watering hole in Etosha National Park, Namibia.John Isaac
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Gemsbok locking horns in Etosha National Park, Namibia.John Isaac
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An elephant strolls nonchalantly by the fight.John Isaac
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A rhinoceros in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.John Isaac
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A crested crane feeds its offspring in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve. "They use their beaks to strip the grass of its seeds, then put them in the baby's mouth," Isaac explains.John Isaac
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Springbok and a giraffe under a cloudless Namibian sky.John Isaac
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A young Springbok drinks as zebras wait their turn at a watering hole in Etosha National Park, Namibia.John Isaac
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Zebras line up for a drink at a watering hole in Namibia's Etosha National Park.John Isaac
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A tiger scrutinizes a lizard at Bandhavgar National Park. "The lizard didn't know who he was messing with," says Isaac. "I was surprised the tiger didn't swat him."John Isaac
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A young gazelle crosses an elephant's path at Namibia's Etosha National Park.John Isaac
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Zebra friends at Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve.John Isaac
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These baby langur monkeys "had just had a fight," Isaac recalls. "One was comforting the other because he'd hit him hard."John Isaac
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A tag team of Namibian cheetahs.John Isaac
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A cheetah blending in, Namibia.John Isaac
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A Namibian cheetah speeds toward its prey.John Isaac
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Cheetah portrait, Namibia.John Isaac
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The red sand dunes at Sossusvlei, in the Namib desert, are over 300 feet high.John Isaac
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A trio of Indian blackbuck antelope, endangered by human development.John Isaac
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Migratory sandhill cranes perform their ritual dance at New Mexico's Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, one of Isaac's favorite places to photograph.John Isaac
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The eagle is landing, Homer, Alaska.John Isaac
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A young egret learning to fly in Florida's Wakodahatchee Wetlands. "It took him a while to get his balance on that branch," says Isaac, who has a long series of the struggling bird. "But eventually he was able to fly away."John Isaac
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Sandhill cranes in flight, Bosque. "I went the night before with all the other photographers to shoot the cranes by the moonlight, but the birds were just black silhouettes," Isaac recalls. "So I went back early next morning as the sun was rising and the moon was setting."John Isaac
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A waterfall near Mount Fuji, Japan. "Instead of doing a wide shot, I took this with a 300mm lens and 1.4X converter—the equivalent of 840mm on my Olympus E-3," says Isaac. "Sometimes a detail works better than the whole scene, even with big subjects."John Isaac
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Wild horses in Iceland.John Isaac
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A cheetah yawns at Namibia's Etosha National Park.John Isaac