Jean-Philippe Soule

A lifelong interest in world cultures and in the more adventurous side of life

Travel/documentary photographer Jean-Philippe Soule was born in France in 1966. He spent two years as a guide in the Mountain Commando Elite Special Forces of the French Army. He then immigrated to the States in 1987 and over the next 5 years, worked his way up through the ranks to manage a localization team at Microsoft. His thirst for adventure, extreme sports, and travel and a lifelong interest in world cultures led him to Asia for a seven year long adventure. He trekked in the Himalayas, explored the jungles of Sumatra and Irian-Jaya, Indonesia, lived for 6 months with a family of shamans among the secluded Mentawai tribe on the island of Siberut ( Finally, he spent 3 years in Japan, learning the language and the intricacies of the culture. He also led the three-year CASKE 2000 expedition through Central America that ended in late 2001.

The world of indigenous cultures through the lens of a camera

Jean-Philippe's interest in photography began in 1985 while he was working as a mountain guide. Today he is a member of the ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) and his photos have been published by the National Geographic Society, Marie Claire, Paddler, Blue, and Texas Monthly in the US, and also in various magazines in Japan and Central America. Numerous photos have been featured in educational curricula, children's books, textbooks, and in museums. His online documentaries have appeared on Native Planet,, and Learning Outfitters. Many non-profit organizations from around the world, including the United Nations, regularly request images from Jean-Philippe for use in promoting humanitarian or cultural projects.

Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers
Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers
Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers Mentawai Indigenous Shamans and Hunter-Gatherers

Jean-Philippe is also regularly sponsored by Lowepro (a global leader in travel and mountaineering camera bags).

A full commitment to promoting cultural preservation

In early 2000 during the CASKE expedition J-Philippe founded Native Planet, a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization. Its mission is to promote cultural preservation. Native Planet offers consultation and implementation of solutions that empower local communities and help them in their efforts to preserve their autonomy, land and culture. It promotes small-scale cultural eco-tourism as a sustainable development solution by consulting directly with native communities, producing engaging documentaries of their lifestyles and promoting their tourism programs to travelers via a set of online resources. It also assesses the needs of specific communities, and connects individuals and organizations to genuine opportunities to give assistance. For more information please visit the Native Planet website at

Communication and trust, immediacy and emotion

J-Philippe’s signature is shooting photos that tell a story. He prefers candid shots that capture the immediacy and spontaneous emotion of a moment in lieu of artificial or re-created scenes. His philosophy is that it is crucial for the photographer to establish communication and trust with his subjects, especially when working with Indigenous peoples. Jean-Philippe often spends days and sometimes weeks building a good rapport with villagers before shooting his first frames. A difference that is evident in the quality of his work..

Uniquely qualified for the toughest assignments

As a photographer, Jean-Philippe will consider assignments related to world cultures and adventure/leisure travel, especially those focusing on indigenous peoples’ issues.
His experience as a guide in mountains, jungles and oceans (diving and sea-kayaking), his language skills (English, French, Japanese, Spanish, Indonesian) and his broad network of contacts developed through the Native Planet NGO, make him uniquely qualified to carry out assignments in areas where others would run into serious difficulties. He considers his most important asset to be his ability to relate to people from all walks of life and to negotiate his way through difficult situations, such as tribal politics and dealings with government officials. Photography isn’t just a job, it is a way of life, a way of making friends and in Jean-Philippe's opinion, the best way to promote mutual cultural respect and understanding.

Jean-Philippe sells his photos directly through:

Around the World in a Viewfinder
a culture & travel stock photo agency

He is also represented by the following Stock Photo Agencies:

Bilderberg (Germany)
Hoa Qui (France)

Jean-Philippe is available for assignments as:

Visit Jean-Philippe's portfolio website:
 View his latest documentary work: Mentawai Shamans and Traditional Hunters

View some of Jean-Philippe's Reportages:

Read some of Jean-Philippe's Stories:

To Be Published:

Adventure & Travel:

Culture & Health:


Return to: Around the World in a Viewfinder