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Anand Varma

Natural History Photographer

Anand Varma’s photographs tell the story behind the science of complex issues. He grew up exploring the streams and woods near his childhood home in Atlanta, Georgia. In his teenage years, he picked up his dad’s old camera on a whim and found that he could use it to feed his curiosity about the natural world. While pursuing a degree in integrative biology at UC Berkeley, Varma worked on a variety of field projects, including studies of elk behavior, mangrove forest ecology, primate behavior, and hummingbird biomechanics. By chance, Varma landed a job assisting photographer David Liittschwager while on assignment for National Geographic magazine. It was on this assignment that Varma discovered his lifelong passion for helping biologists communicate their research through photographs.


Varma’s regular association with National Geographic began in 2006 serving as a photo assistant to several of the world’s leading nature and wildlife photographers, including David Liittschwager, Christian Ziegler, Joel Sartore, and Tim Laman on more than a dozen feature stories for the magazine. In 2010 Varma was awarded a Young Explorer Grant from the Society to photograph the wetlands of northern Patagonia. Varma shot his first feature story for National Geographic, “Mindsuckers” (November 2014), using a macabre, graphic novel-inspired treatment to introduce the world to mind-controlling parasites. The project had him raising insects, frogs, and parasites in his home—and in hotels—across the world. For his next story, “Quest for a Superbee” (May 2015), Varma investigated the threats facing this critical pollinator of our food supply. He took up beekeeping for a close-up view of honeybee metamorphosis and the menace of the Asian mite. Anand Varma currently resides in Berkeley, California.

Highlights & Accomplishments
In 2010 Varma was awarded a Young Explorer Grant from National Geographic Society to photograph the wetlands of northern Patagonia.
To better research his 2015 National Geographic story, "Quest for a Superbee," Varma took up beekeeping at his home.
Follow Anand Varma:
Varma Bio Portrait


Varma TED Video Poster


TED Talk: First 21 Days of a Bee's Life
This project, for National Geographic, gives a lyrical glimpse into a bee hive — and reveals one of the biggest threats to its health, a mite that preys on baby bees in the first 21 days of life. 
Zombie Video Poster


Zombie Parasites
What if, unbeknownst to you, someone—or something—was controlling your behavior for its own nefarious ends?
Mindsuckers Video Poster


Getting the Pictures: Midsuckers
Anand Varma describes the challenge of photographing parasites as they hijack host animals, featured in the "Mindsuckers" issue of National Geographic magazine.

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