Meet Madison Webb: Championing Conservation Through In-Kind Contributions

Meet Madison Webb: Championing Conservation Through In-Kind Contributions

Celebrating the Winner of This Year’s Annual Report Photo Contest

Meet Madison Webb, a talented photographer born and raised in Idaho. Madison recently clinched the top spot in the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance’s ‘Annual Report Photo Contest.’ Her love for wild spaces fuels both her photography and her commitment to conservation. Learn more about Madison’s journey to becoming an award-winning photographer and how her art contributes to preserving our natural environment.

  1. What initially drew you to the art of photography?

Photography started as a hobby over two decades ago, but soon developed into a passion and ultimately a career. I had always been creative, but failed to find a medium that suited me until I got my first camera for Christmas at thirteen. In high school, I stepped out of my comfort zone and took AP Studio Art. I was the only photographer in the class, and the instructor was a bit perplexed about what to do with me, but we found our way and it was the first time I saw myself as an artist.


Photography is an incredible blend of the real and the imaginary. A camera “captures” but the artist behind the lens has so much control over what it sees and how it’s rendered, and there’s magic there.

  1. Can you share a bit about your background and how it has influenced your work as a photographer?

I was born in Idaho and have always been drawn to wild spaces. I spent several formative summers of my childhood living on a remote fire lookout in the Payette National Forest which my mother was manning. From then on, I knew my home was among the mountains. I studied art history in undergraduate and graduate school, and always said I wanted to work in the arts and live in the mountains—and people would laugh. Most art industry jobs are located in cities or metropolitan areas, but after graduate school I managed to find art jobs in Cody, then Santa Fe, and finally in Jackson. My background as an art historian definitely informs my work as a photographer. It has given me an in-depth understanding of light, composition, and framing.


I moved to Wyoming in 2014, where the beauty and abundant wildlife inspired me to pursue landscape and wildlife photography. Five years ago, I was asked to photograph a surprise proposal in Grand Teton National Park, and the rest is history. In addition to working at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, I’m also a professional photographer. I now photograph nearly 200 portrait sessions a year, ranging from proposals and engagements to elopements, weddings, and everything in between. I consider myself so lucky to document people’s lives and love stories. Most of the time, I witness and capture some of the happiest moments of their lives—it’s an honor I genuinely cherish. In addition to my work as a professional portrait photographer, I am still passionate about landscapes and wildlife. Those are the subjects that fill me up.

  1. Can you walk us through your creative process to capture your winning piece “Summer Idyll,” from idea conception to final image?

Many landscape photographers head out with a tripod and stake out a location for their preferred composition, spending most of the sunrise there. I prefer to shoot handheld as it gives me more flexibility to move, adjust my angle, and react quickly to changing light or wildlife. I also tend to move around a lot, always looking for different compositions and visiting several locations during the golden hour morning light. This morning was no exception to that. In creating “Summer Idyll” I was first seeking that perfect stillness in the river. Once I found a location without current or wind, I then considered the angle of the mountains, in this case I had to crouch down in order to maximize the amount of the Tetons reflected in the river. This had the added benefit of bringing some of the summer grasses into the lower third of the composition, which I quite liked the framing of. Finally, I looked for an angle and position that allowed not only the reflection to pop, but also some clarity through the water into the rocks below for added texture and complexity. The Snake River Bottom is an extremely popular and oft photographed locale, but I have spent many a sunrise alone here, by simply wandering a bit further afield. I’ve also never seen the same sunrise twice, which is one of the biggest incentives to set that early alarm. The light, the color, the clouds, the weather, the wildlife, the foliage—it all constantly changes and never ceases to amaze.

  1. Can you share a memorable experience or encounter you’ve had while photographing?

One of my most memorable photography experiences occurred not too far from this same spot, further down on the Snake River. I had hiked in on a November morning, hoping to photograph Schwabacher Landing with a fresh dusting of snow before the winter wildlife closures went into effect. As I rounded a bend in the river, fiddling with my camera, I looked up to see THREE grizzly bears twenty feet in front of me. “BEARS!” my brain shouted at me. “BEARS, BEARS, BEARS!” One of the subadult cubs stood and sniffed the air. I was completely alone, my car was over a mile away, and I was outnumbered. I cautiously reached back for my bear spray, held it in one hand, and started to slowly back away. I still held my camera in the other hand and willing myself not to shake, I snapped photos while continuing to back away. “I am not breakfast,” I said quietly, “I am not breakfast.” The bears continued towards me, not charging but clearly planning to continue in my direction. I continued my slow retreat, the bears then entered the sage brush to my right and vanished from view, I would catch the glimpse of a hump occasionally and the Jaws theme song played unbidden in my head (thanks brain, not helpful!). Then the sow entered a clearing in the sage and paused, looking directly at me. I kept my bear spray outstretched and my soft mantra of “I’m not breakfast.” My heart was thundering in my chest. I felt her weighing her choices, and finally she broke eye contact and kept moving. I then slowly made it to the restroom in the parking lot and sheltered there until the bears had moved around and past me. I watched them crest the ridge before moving back out. I was relieved, amazed, grateful—and NOT breakfast. I stayed by the river and captured some landscape shots; I’d missed the best sunrise light during my bear encounter but ended up with some of the most memorable images of my life.

  1. How do you find inspiration in your local surroundings for your photography?

For me inspiration is often about light. One of my favorite quotes is from Wild by Cherly Strayed, “There’s always a sunrise and always a sunset and it’s up to you to choose to be there for it,’ said my mother. ‘Put yourself in the way of beauty.” That has become a guiding principle for me. Living in the Tetons there is no shortage of beauty, but you still have to show up for it. Wherever I go, I strive to put myself in the way of beauty. I find inspiration in so many things—sunrises, puddles, blue birds, alpenglow, antler velvet, storm clouds, wildflowers, the list goes on.

  1. How would you describe your unique style or approach to photography?

I would describe my style as vibrant and true to nature.

  1. Are there any specific themes or subjects that you find yourself drawn to photographing?

As seen in Summer Idyll, I am often drawn to reflections. Additionally, I love to photograph alpenglow in the winter, the full moon, mountain blue birds, moose, and wildflowers. I’m particularly drawn to the beautiful lilac of the pre-dawn morning sky. The thing that all of these have in common is being fleeting—they are momentary but magical.

  1. What inspires you to pick up your camera and start shooting?

Inspiration can vary a lot. Sometimes it’s a specific sight, that compels you to take a picture, like the full moon breaking through the clouds as the soft sunset light hits the mountains below. Other times it’s more intentional, the forecast looks promising, you want a certain shot in a certain place and you make the plan. And thirdly, sometimes it’s emotional. You get this itch, drive, to get out, to see something, to create.

  1. What challenges have you faced as a photographer, and how have you overcome them?

The first barrier for me was believing that I was a photographer, an artist. It felt like a big title, and I didn’t want to be an imposter. Then there was the logistical barrier of gear and finances, but you buy the camera you can afford, and you learn. And eventually I paid for the “better” camera and lenses with my own photography profits. You have to believe in yourself, and you have to create the work because you love it, the rest will come.

  1. What role do you think photography plays in conservation?

Photography and art will always be incredibly powerful tools for conservation. There’s a reason that William Henry Jackson and Thomas Moran accompanied the Hayden Expedition in 1871. Their images played a critical role in convincing Congress to name Yellowstone as the world’s first National Park. It’s one thing to tell someone how important, beautiful, diverse, interwoven, and essential something may be, but it’s another to show them. 

Madison Webb’s story exemplifies the power of individuals to make a difference beyond financial contributions. In a world where every action counts, her journey reminds us that in-kind donations of skills, crafts, and time are invaluable assets in the fight for conservation. Whether through capturing the beauty of our natural world or lending a helping hand, each contribution plays a crucial role in safeguarding our planet for generations to come. Let Madison’s dedication inspire us to harness our own talents and resources in service of a healthier, more sustainable future.

Phone: (307) 733-9417
685 S. Cache St. PO Box 2728
Jackson, Wyoming 83001