Born in France, from Vietnamese parents, I was originally trained as a scientist (Ecole Polytechnique X84, PhD University of Paris), and made a few fundamental contributions to the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing, detailed in The Geometry of Multiple Images (MIT Press, with Olivier Faugeras).
In the mid eighties, my life was transformed by the wilderness of mountains. As a climber, and then mountain guide, I was initially interested in photography as a means to communicate to people who weren't there the wonders I had seen on the high peaks of the Alps.
Although I am no longer involved in difficult technical climbing, this participatory approach to photography continues these days with adventure travels, which have taken me to five continents. I am fortunate that my work could span an immense geographic range, from climbing the summit of Mt. McKinley in Alaska, to scuba diving under tropical seas.
In 1993, another turning point happened. Attracted by the proximity of Yosemite - and its famous cliffs - I found my way to the University of California, Berkeley for what was originally planned as a short stay. There, inspired by the rich tradition of American landscape photography, I learned to use the large format camera, founding in the process the primary internet resource for large format photographers.
At that same time, I felt in love with the National Parks, and set out for a monumental nature photography project that had not been completed by anyone: photographing all of them with the large format camera. To complete the project, I made my home in the San Francisco Bay Area. My years of experience of outdoor adventuring proved useful when exploring the backcountry of many parks, occasionally hiking in trail-less terrain with a 70-lbs backpack, paddling kayaks and canoes during extended expeditions.
Although I am still creating new photographs of the parks - now harnessing digital technology to create images which couldn't be made in the past - by the summer of 2002, I had made large format photographs of the (then) 58 National Parks when I set up my camera on the Great Kobuk Sand Dunes in Arctic Alaska (see picture). I had found an audience since 1995 with my first website, the Mountain Gallery, which was expended into this website in 2001 and has since led to hundreds of publications in more than thirty countries. Its popularity as one of the most visited of individual photographer's websites allowed me to turn to photography full-time.
In 2009, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan featured me as one of the few living characters in the PBS film The National Parks: America's Best Idea. To celebrate the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, I released my signature book Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey through America's National Parks, which won five national book awards and became a critically acclaimed best-seller. I currently live in San Jose, California, with my wife, two children, two chickens, and a Chihuahua dog named Peanut who routinely runs half-marathon distances.