Stephen Alvarez: He goes both high and low

Mary Pom ClaiborneOur Town Readers

What’s a Tennessee man doing at the bottom of the deepest cave in the world? 

He’ll tell you about it at noon Wednesday, June 12, at the East Tennessee History Center.

Stephen Alvarez

Stephen Alvarez is an interesting guy. Really interesting. Being a photographer for more than a dozen National Geographic stories is interesting enough, but Alvarez’s brand of photography takes him from the highest peaks in the Andes to the deepest cave in the world, to the tunnels of underground Paris to the islands of the Pacific Ocean. His blog post tells the story of his first assignment for Nat Geo when he went blind in one eye.

His latest story is featured in the May issue of the esteemed magazine. It’s called “Storied Rock” and is about cave art, rock art, and petroglyphs and their insight into the hearts and minds of our ancient ancestors. In fact, his exploration of these caves had such an impact on him that he started a nonprofit, the Ancient Art Archive, dedicated to preserving these increasingly vulnerable sites.

What’s more, some of them are in our own backyard. Born in Sewanee, Tennessee, he started caving practically before he could walk. OK, that’s hyperbole, but he’s been underground more than most. One of his Nat Geo stories featured the Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia cave system. He tells this story about his photo of Mystery Falls on Lookout Mountain outside Chattanooga being “mistaken” for Kruber Cave in the Republic of Georgia. Or was it being used as political propaganda?

In addition to National Geographic, his work has been featured in Time Magazine, The Nature Conservancy and the New York Times. He has appeared on NPR, PBS and CBS Saturday Morning, was a Microsoft Brand Ambassador, and has awed audiences from the Banff Mountain Center to National Geographic Live!

Alvarez has been a guest on a number of podcasts including To The Best of Our Knowledge. He has hosted travel for Lindblad Expeditions and NG Travel including the Shackleton Anniversary Expedition to Antarctica, and a world jet tour.

So, you won’t want to miss him when he’s here talking about the adventures that led him to his life calling. He’ll be at the East Tennessee History Center on June 12 at noon. Bring your lunch if you want, but I’m betting your jaw will be dropped through the whole talk, making eating a challenge. It’s free and open to the public.

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *