Getting to know: Levison Wood

Posted by Wild Spaces on

Levison Wood is a best-selling author, explorer and photographer who has worked in over 100 countries and written seven best-selling books. He has also produced six critically acclaimed documentaries, which have aired around the world.

He became an expedition photographer and writer upon leaving the British Army having served in the Parachute Regiment for 13 years.

Levison has gained recognition for his epic walking expeditions in Africa and Asia. He was the first man to attempt to walk the entire length of the Nile: 4,250 miles, from Nyungwe Forest in Rwanda. In 2015, he walked the entire expanse of the Himalayas, from Afghanistan in the west to Bhutan in the east.

Along his travels, he has built a breath-taking portfolio of photography documenting stunning landscapes and unique cultures, which he primarily shares through his books.
Mundari Cattle Camp by Levison Wood
Wild Spaces: Give us a brief description of your journey to becoming a professional photographer.

Levison Wood: On leaving the army I wanted to express myself more creatively. I bought a camera, flew to Mexico and was learned the ropes in a colourful country. I had no formal training, but read a lot and studied my craft. Like many, I dipped my toe in with friends weddings, pets and babies alongside numerous other jobs. Soon enough I had a few images in minor exhibitions and a won a couple of local competitions and that opened to door to getting works published in guide books, travel magazines and newspapers.

How have the last 12 months been for you? How has COVID affected your work?

On the one had its been frustrating with limited travel and cancelled projects. However it’s given me the opportunity to collate my work and I published my first photography book and had an exhibition in London in collaboration with Leica which was great. So not all bad.

What project are you most proud of and why?

I feel really proud of my latest book ‘Encounters’ which encapsulates 10 years of photography. Its really a study into the human condition from the perspective of a traveller in remote places, and seeing what unites humanity in a world where we are constantly told we are divided.

Encounters by Levison Wood

Who or what has inspired you most during your career in photography?

I’ve taken much inspiration from Don McCullin, who I was lucky enough to meet and chat to last year. He invited me to the premiere of his life’s work exhibition at the Tate Britain.

It feels like a pivotal time for the natural world - are you optimistic or pessimistic? Where do you think we’ll be in 2050?

It really is. Even in my lifetime the world population has almost doubled- which is a terrifying thought. In turn that has had a huge impact on our climate, habitat and wild places. We really need to act now if there is to be a world worth living in for the next generation. So I’m disappointed more than anything. That said, we can affect change, if only more people would be open to hard truths.

What are the most important changes that can be made to support the natural world?

We need to encourage education above all else. Only through education can we get local community buy-in to reduce waste, stop deforestation and the destruction of the natural world. Ultimately, we need human population growth to stabilise before we can even hope to reduce the assault on planet earth. We in the developed world need to set an example.

Dhofar Ridge by Levison Wood

What projects do you have planned for 2021?

I’ve stopped planning. It seems a bit pointless right now. I am hoping to be able to travel though- anywhere would do.

How do you relax away from work?

I read, I do a bit of yoga and I’m trying to get some travel in for travels sake.

Which artists do you admire and why?

There’s a lot of inspirational artists across the spectrum. I really like George Butlers conflict illustration; Yalda Sephapours works on female form; in acting Matthew McConaughey, and photography Katharina Jung.

Katharina Jung

Finally, what is your favourite book and do you have any you’d like to recommend?

I have a library full of favourite books but if I have to choose Paolo Coelho’s Alchemist is up there.

Explore Levison's bio and collection of images from his travels here.