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IN HIS OWN WORDS: JEAN-PHILIPPE SOULÉ

My experience living with the Mentawai people in the Indonesian rainforest influenced me deeply: their intimate understanding of and harmonious relationship with the tropical forest changed my life. When I returned from there in 1994, I searched for a way that I could help them and soon realized that they were facing a problem shared by most indigenous groups worldwide. As a result, I planned and led the highly successful CASKE2000 expedition to attract global media attention and sensitize people to indigenous issues. By January 2001, it had evolved into a lifelong calling to educate people about native cultures and assist traditional communities—and Native Planet was born!

A lifelong interest in world cultures and in the more adventurous side of life

Born in France in 1966, I spent two years as a guide in the Mountain Commando Elite Special Forces of the French Army. I immigrated to the United States in 1987. Over the next five years, I worked at Microsoft Corporation, but my thirst for adventure; extreme sports and travel; and a lifelong interest in world cultures led me to Asia for a seven-year adventure. I trekked in the Himalayas, explored the jungles of Indonesia and lived for six months with a family of Mentawai shamans secluded on the island of Siberut. In 1994, I spent three years in Japan, learning the language and the intricacies of that culture.


My fascination with indigenous cultures began early: at age ten, the adventures and cultural documentaries of Jacques Cousteau were my strongest inspiration! I felt that my talent in extreme sports and experience as a world explorer could help foster global awareness of the beauty of and the need to protect indigenous cultures so, from 1998 to 2001, I led CASKE2000, a 3000-mile kayak expedition between Mexico and Panama. Both the public school curricula developed from it and the great interest of scholars from around the world in the team's online journals contributed to its great success. The book detailing our adventures, “Native Planet, The Book”, will be released soon.


The world of indigenous cultures through the lens of a camera

I am a professional photographer and a writer, with membership in the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers); my photographs have been featured by the National Geographic Society, Marie Claire, Paddler, Blue, and Texas Monthly in the U.S., and in several magazines throughout Japan and Central America.

Photos from my expeditions have also been featured in educational curricula, children's books, textbooks and museum exhibits. My online documentaries have appeared on NativePlanet.org, BigChalk.com and LearningOutfitters.com. Nonprofit organizations from around the world, including the United Nations, have purchased my images to promote their humanitarian and/or cultural projects.

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Professional Photography: Cultural Documentaries & Travel Reportages

View some of Jean-Philippe's Reportages:

Kalbeliya Gypsies

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