People told Prisscila Baxter that she’d never get a reply from National Geographic magazine.
She took the chance anyway. Got a reply the next day and her first double-page print was featured in the magazine the following week.
In Monterrey, Mexico lies a photography studio. It is owned by Prisscila Baxter’s friend Luis Ramos. When he opened the studio in 2006, he hired Baxter as a photography assistant. “Since I studied communication, photography and filmography, he knew I would be interested,” says Baxter who was in charge of the organization, pre-production and post-production of photo shoots. It was thanks to Ramos that she acquired a number of new skills and further developed her passion for photography.
Baxter opened her own studio “Baxter Studio” in 2008 and when she wasn’t working at her Monterrey base, she’d use every opportunity to pack up her lenses and travel. For years, she was a travel photographer, capturing wildlife, people and landscapes, but in 2016, Baxter started looking for a breakthrough as a published photographer. And she decided to shoot for the stars.
A rhino and a guru
“I had always dreamt of being a National Geographic photographer but I hadn’t had the courage to pursue it until then,” says Baxter. She decided to ignore the naysayers who told her she would never get a reply from the famous travel magazine and went ahead and submitted a PDF portfolio to National Geographic traveller, Latin America. “I couldn’t quite believe it when they replied the next day and said that they were going to publish two of my pictures in the magazine the following week,” she recalls.
The photos that were chosen for that first spread, held a special place in Baxter’s heart.
On a one-month long trip to Kenya, she took the picture of an orphaned black rhino called Nikki. It was being cared for by rangers at the Lewa Wildlife Conservatory in Northern Kenya. “I wanted to achieve a dramatic effect in the picture and in order to do that, I had to use a flash,” she says. Baxter’s friend Luca Ghidoni was holding the flash while she was right in front of the rhino with her 14-24 mm camera. “I remember holding my breath while taking a couple of pictures and then running back to our jeep as the rhino started following me,” explains Baxter who later learned that the unique light was the main reason why the photo was selected.
Baxter’s other picture was that of a 90-year-old guru she took on a trip to Pushkar in India. “He invited us to his tiny tepee and explained that he was doing a spiritual cleansing ritual and that he hadn’t eaten in 40 days,” she says. His words on how everything is possible as long as we set our minds to it have stuck with Baxter ever since.
National Geographic Traveler Latin America is published 8 times per year and is part of Disney Publishing Worldwide. Baxter’s pictures have been featured in several issues, enabling her to use the publication as part of her personal brand.
“It is no secret that being a NAT GEO collaborator has given my business a boost but I can’t just hide behind the brand. I also have to deliver and inspire others,” she says.
From geysers and glaciers to hutongs and hippos
With the purpose of inspiring fellow photographers while offering them the opportunity of a lifetime, Baxter has, for the past three years, organised photography tours to Iceland. “Iceland is a natural wonderland – and the rawness of nature there is something quite unique,” says Baxter. On the 10-day tours which Baxter calls “photographic road trips”, participants are given fun, photographic assignments as well as the opportunity to capture that rawness and experience northern lights, active geysers and wild horses.
Three years ago, a new job took Baxter and her husband to Beijing. The vibrant multi-million Chinese capital opened new doors for Baxter who has mostly focused on family-, fashion and food photography but also organized workshops on the city’s hutongs (narrow streets) and it’s famous 798 Art district which lends itself perfectly for photography.
With their first child due in April, Baxter and her husband left Beijing in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak and are getting ready for their next adventure: a posting in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.
Since working in Kenya for a month back in 2016, Baxter has always dreamt of going back. Photographers around the world will soon be able to join her photographic safaris and draw inspiration from a National Geographic collaborator.