This World is Awesome (20 photos)

As a National Geographic photographer since 1995, Stephen Alvarez has explored our world in ways most of us can only imagine. His global stories have won him numerous awards and taken him to amazing places, much like our all-time favorite photographer, Steve McCurry.

Over the past fifteen years, Alvarez chronicled the world's unseen landscapes and then called the series Earth from Below. His journeys took him to the world's deepest cave in Abkhazia on the border with Russia and made him curious enough to explore the treasures right underneath his feet. Alvarez recently spoke about these incredible experiences at The Annnenberg Space for Photography. For those of you who could not attend, you can watch his lecture here.

What I enjoy most about Alvarez's photos is that, just like Steve McCurry, he can transport us into another time and place. Unlike McCurry, however, Alvarez gives us a different type of connection. Whereas McCurry's photos make us appreciate our shared human experiences, Alvarez's awe-inspiring photos give us a whole new appreciation for this earth – its natural beauty and, most importantly, its hidden gems.

I was able to ask Stephen my favorite question: What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?

“The advice I give to people just starting out is the same advice I give to veteran photographers and to myself each morning,” he tells us. “Find your passion, find something you love to take pictures of, something that is meaningful to you and gets you excited every day. Exploration does it for me, but so does portraiture, so does good storytelling. Professional photography isn't a job as much as it is a life and what you shoot is going to define you.

“There is a sea of photographers out there,” he continues. “The ones that stand out all have a passion for their subject, it shows in the pictures.”

Make sure to check out Stephen Alvarez's website to see more of his incredible photos.

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