I was born in Ibagué (Tolima, Colombia) in 1979. However, I lived my youth in rural areas where I awoke a passion for the contemplation of nature. When I was 12 years old, I made observations of my first bird (Crimson-Backed Tanager) on feeding behaviors, encouraged by my parents who have guided me in understanding the biological world and sensitivity to nature since my childhood.
At the age of 16, I decided to study biology. Three years later, I realized that not only observation and data collection in the field and laboratory are enough to support my studies, so I decided to use photography as evidence. After several failed attempts (using an old second-hand SLR camera Minolta SR-T 101), I made the decision to study self-taught in order to capture any manifestation of life and convey my feelings as a biologist through photography.
I had limited financial resources for my passion as a photographer and biology student. However, I overcame this condition with the support of my family and teachers. This allowed me to improve my photographic training simultaneously with my education as a biologist, Magister, and PhD. in matters related to zoology, taxonomy, systematics, and biogeography. In fact, the fusion of biology and photography marks my lifestyle as a researcher but as a scientific disseminator at heart.
Now, I have a personal point of view on the role of science in society; I understand nature from an artistic perspective with a strong technical and scientific understanding. This allows me to think of arts visual not only from an aesthetic perspective but also as an indispensable tool in scientific dissemination. I try to contribute to the education of conscious and responsible communities about their decisions and the effects they can have on the environment.
In this way, my work leads me to show that the sustainable use of biodiversity should be state policy in Colombia and other megadiverse countries, not only as an economic but also as a social alternative. This leads me to believe that science, art, technology, and education will be my form of expression to create a sense of belonging in people over the value of biodiversity.
High School/Alberto Santofimio Caicedo
Biologist/Universidad del Tolima
M.Sc. Biological Sciences/Universidad del Tolima
Ph.D Biological Sciences/Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Professor and Researcher in Universidad del Tolima and Universidad de Ibagué
Invited Photographer to Biological Expedition by IAvH, WWF Colombia, Fundación Omacha, The Field Museum, Mississippi University
I'm interested in the study of endangered species, biodiversity, conservation, phylogeny, and systematics, a broad field that includes the discovery, description, and classification of life and the inference of evolutionary relationships. Currently, my research involves conservation, ecology, evolution, and biogeography of freshwater fish, particularly those distributed in South American basins.
Currently, my focus is oriented to description and delimitation species of Neotropical fishes and phylogeny of controversial groups. I use molecular and morphological tools to help discover relationships among species and resolve taxonomy in order to better understand the evolutionary history of these taxa. However, I am more interested in compelling research questions than particular organism groups – animals, plants, or fungi.
My publications involve different papers and books that you can find on different platforms. I highlight the description of new fish species and the design of a method for field photography called the Photafish System.
Special mention. Photo Contest Montphoto, Mar de Lloret, España, 2017.
First place. International Latino Book Awards, Best Latino Focused Book Design, California, USA, 2016.
Special mention. Photo Contest Agenda del Mar, Medellín, Colombia 2014.
Second place. Photo Contest, Consejo Profesional de Biología, Bogotá, Colombia, 2014.
First place. Photo Contest Revista Hipótesis edición 14, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, 2013.
Semifinalist. Photo Contest, Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards, and Exhibition, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, USA, 2012.
Special mention. Photo Contest Montphoto, Mar de Lloret, España, 2012.
Second Place. Photo Contest Colombia en Fotos, Bogotá, Colombia, 2011.
Emerging Talent Award Runner Up Prize in Nikon Photo Contest International, Japan, 2009.
Second place. Photo Contest IX Concurso Nacional de Fotografía Ecológica "Prenio Termoflores", Barranquilla, Colombia, 2005.
The camera models that I have used for more than 20 years, tell many stories of happiness and sadness. It is noteworthy that many cameras were gifts from my parents, which proves the great support I have received from my family throughout my life.
My first Camera. This was purchased by my father from a pawn shop.
A camera that I did not have much time for its automatisms
My first autofocus camera. It was also bought by my parents
A second-hand camera that I bought without knowing its status, it was the first digital camera with only 2,5 megapixels.
My first digital reflex camera. Also a gift from my parents.
A second-hand camera that I traded for my Minolta Maxxum 5
Camera that I bought thanks to the first photographic commission to make images of a biological collection
Again, a gift from my parents. My camera until 2019, when I was shipwrecked with almost all my photographic equipment in the waters of the Vaupés River in Colombia. My loss was greater, since my colleague, friend and mentor Javier Maldonado died.
Paradoxically my first compact camera, which I used to take photos of my colleagues in the field and for video clips.
All website content © Copyright Jorge E. García-Melo