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Posted December 1, 2011
Assignment of a Lifetime
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A remote-controlled micro-copter will allow photographer Michael Nichols to get images of lions he could get no other way.

For more than ten years, Michael “Nick” Nichols, a staff photographer since 1996, has dreamed of doing a story on lions in the Serengeti. This past summer, the dream became reality: Nick’s proposal was accepted and he began his epic coverage. In 2012, he’ll return to Tanzania three more times in search of spectacular and special images. He’ll document the complex issues of “living with lions”—the frictions caused by a rapidly growing human population sharing their territory. Nick’s realized dream will be published in an issue of National Geographic in 2013.

Nick, who always pushes the limits of what the camera can show, had a vision. He wanted to show lions as never seen before. Remote-controlled micro-copters and cars with cameras, night-vision goggles, infrared cameras, and state-of-the-art camera traps allow him to get closer than he—or anyone else—could imagine.

While working in the field, a photo editor is every photographer’s lifeline. Here on, we are publishing Nick’s emails to his editor, Kathy Moran, as he reports back on his struggles and successes on this assignment of a lifetime.

Biologist Craig Packer and his University of Minnesota Lion Research Center team have been studying the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater lions for more than 30 years. Their work makes these pictures possible. Learn more at, or support the Serengeti Lion Project.

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