Carlton Ward Jr


Carlton Ward Jr is a conservation photographer and National Geographic Explorer whose passion for nature was born from the Florida landscape. His mission is to inspire appreciation and protection of Florida’s original nature and culture – the endangered wildness that is often hidden in plain sight but very much needs our attention to be saved.

A male panther jumps over a creek in Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. It took more than a year of camera trapping in this same spot to achieve this image, depicting a panther inhabiting the swamp environment that has been essential to the survival of the species. Although pumas once ranged throughout North America, remote South Florida swamps are the only place in the eastern United States where panthers avoided human persecution and encroachment.
Carlton began his career working with the Smithsonian Institution in Central Africa, leading to his first book, The Edge of Africa, and a photography exhibit with the United Nations. In 2004, he retrained his focus on his native Florida, motivated by eight generations of family heritage and a drive to bring new attention and protection to the state’s under-appreciated wild heart. Carlton published Florida Cowboys in 2009 and founded the Florida Wildlife Corridor project in 2010. With fellow explorers Mallory Dimmitt and Joe Guthrie, he has since trekked more than 2,000 miles through the Corridor during two National Geographic supported expeditions, which both produced award-winning books, PBS films and widespread outreach for the statewide vision to keep Florida wild.
Recent honours include receiving the Conservation Leadership Award from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, being named a Florida Icon by Florida Trend magazine and serving as the Rolex Artist in Exploration with the Explorers Club.

Carlton’s photographs are widely exhibited and collected and are published in newspapers and magazines, including Audubon, Smithsonian, Nature Conservancy and National Geographic. Learn more about his photography and fine art prints by visiting or his studio in Tampa. Purchasing Carlton’s art helps empower him to stay on the front lines as a voice for conservation in Florida.​
As summer begins, swallow-tailed kites are gathering from their nesting grounds across the southeastern US to prepare for their 5,000-mile annual migration to their wintering grounds Pantanal of Southern Brazil. During this epic journey, the ranch lands and conservation lands of South Florida provide essential foraging habitat, where kites come together in large aggregations before flying south over open waters of the Caribbean and Gulf.

I​n 2013, Carlton founded Florida Wild, a media and production company working to elevate and protect wild Florida through strategic communications. Current productions include Chasing Ghosts and Path of the Panther, both in partnership with Grizzly Creek Films. Non-profit and agency partners include National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Palm Beach Zoological Society, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and US Fish & Wildlife Service.

The Path of the Panther project has been Carlton’s full-time focus since 2016, supported by grants from the National Geographic Society and numerous partners. Carlton and his team are managing a network of professional photography and video camera traps throughout the critical habitat of the Florida Wildlife Corridor. Their purpose is to inspire a public and political movement to save the Florida Wildlife Corridor through the story of the endangered Florida panther. To learn more and support this project, please visit

Books, Films and Exhibitions

Films & Documentaries
2022, Path of the Panther
2021, Saving the Florida Wildlife Corridor
2020, The Wild Divide
2018, The Last Green Thread
2015, The Forgotten Coast

Book Publications
2015, The Forgotten Coast: Florida Wildlife Corridor Glades to Gulf Expedition
2012, Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: Everglades to Okefenokee
2009, Florida Cowboys: Keepers of the Last Frontier
2003, The Edge of Africa

Solo Exhibitions
2017, Florida Wild, Polk Museum of Art
2016, Florida Wild, Rolex Exploration Exhibit, Explorers Club NYC
2015, Forgotten Coast, St. Pete Museum of History
2015, Florida Wild, Dunedin Fine Art Center
2013, Florida Wildlife Corridor, Tampa Bay History Center
2012, Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, Selby Gardens