I live in a small village in rural north Dorset but grew up in North America, England and India. I started my career working as a conservation officer, I worked in the woods as a charcoal burner and coppice worker, in environmental education, and spent many years as a glassblower at the Dorset Centre for Rural Skills, I currently work in ancient woodland conservation. My art explores finding my place in the world as a third culture person and connecting with the natural world has been fundamental to finding a sense of belonging.

I’m drawn to using creative techniques as this enables me to explore my connection to nature in a way that representational photography does not always allow. These processes, through thier fluidity and use of metalic elements, often mirror the way I used colour and form as a glass blower. Most of my work is taken within a 15 mile radius of my house, much of it from the woods and fields in the village. It is my hope that my imagery may help encourage people to explore and connect with the natural world in a responsible yet playful way, and that it might promote the wellbeing benefits of (re)connecting and spending time with nature.

jo stephen hnd blown glass
A collection of my hand blown glass bottles

I am self-taught as a photographer and my academic background is in ecology, I have a BSc (Hons) in Ecology and Wildlife Conservation and an MSc (dist) Green Economy. My masters research, explored the value of photography in communicating sustainability and biodiversity conservation, calculated the carbon footprint of landscape and nature photographers and explored how photography can be used as a tool for engagement in nature connection and inspiring pro-environmental behaviours. It is important to me to ensure my life and my art has the lowest carbon and ecological footprint possible and I follow the RPS Code of Practice for Nature Photography.

“The welfare of the subject is more important than the photograph”

Royal Photographic society

Some achievements and exhibitions

  • 2022 IGPOTY 16 Square Crop Project 2nd Place, exhibited at Kew 2023.
  • 2022 Amateur Photographer Intimate Landscapes feature & cover image.
  • 2022 International Garden Photographer of the Year exhibition, Kew Gardens.
  • 2022 IGPOTY 15 finalist in Abstract Views
  • 2021 Sakura features in Amy-Jane Beer’s A Tree A Day book
  • 2021 Shortlisted Bird Photography of the Year Creative Imagery category
  • 2020 CUPOTY 02 Plants shortlist
  • 2020 SheClicks exhibition at the Photography Show online.
  • 2020 RHS Photographic competition, Social Media category, Second place.
  • 2020 RHS Photographic competition, All About Plants category Highly Commended
  • 2020 Wex Photographer of the Year exhibition, London
  • 2020 Shortlisted for British Photography Awards Macro category
  • 2019 Digital Camera Magazine – Montage feature.
  • 2019 SheClicks Exhibition, After Nyne Gallery, Holland Park, London. 26 September.
  • 2019 Featured Artist at the Stock Gaylard Oak Fair, Dorset.
  • 2019 Amateur Photographer – Summer Blues, wet cyanotype feature 17 August.
  • 2019 Amateur Photographer – Blurring the Boundaries, 4 page feature 6. July.
  • 2019 ON Landscape featured photographer issue 184.
  • 2019 5 page photo-essay Dorset Life Magazine May issue.
  • 2019 Featured photographer Dorset Magazine May issue.
  • 2019 Plants and Pollinators solo exhibition, DWT Kingcombe centre 1-31 May.
  • 2019 IGPOTY 12 Finalist and Highly Commended in Abstract Views.
  • 2019 Winter Abstract Feature in Digital Camera Magazine February issue.
  • 2019 ON Landscape 4×4 Portfolio – Field Margins.
  • 2018 NUS Students for Trees photography competition – 2nd place Highly Commended.
  • 2018 RHS Botanical Art Fair, London, Bronze medal for a Photographic Portfolio.
  • 2017 Wex photographer of the year exhibitions in London and Leeds.
  • 2017 Wex Photographic Calendar.

I’m a member of Nature First which is built on seven core principles to ensure photographers minimise their impacts on the natural environment and work in a sustainable manner to help protect and preserve the natural world.

The Nature First Principles

  1. Prioritise the well-being of nature over photography.
  2. Educate yourself about the places you photograph.
  3. Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.
  4. Use discretion if sharing locations.
  5. Know and follow rules and regulations.
  6. Always follow the Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.
  7. Actively promote and educate others about these principles.

Recent editorial work

Intimate landscapes feature, AP magazine, 5th April 2022