Conservation photographer Carlton Ward Jr. (’98)
defends a side of Florida few know.

Photography by Carlton Ward Jr. (’98)

The Florida Wildlife Corridor is almost 16 million acres of savage beauty that continuously spans the entire state — 40% of which is currently unprotected.

  • Manatee mother and calf come to the surface to breathe in Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.

“I grew up in the suburbs, but I had one foot in the woods. I’m really trying to showcase and celebrate the Florida that’s hiding in plain sight to the 20 million people living here.”


  • An American alligator glides through the reflection of spring-leaved cypress trees at Babcock Ranch Preserve in Charlotte County.

Ward’s original plan was to major in physics on his way to grad school for engineering, but after falling in love with biology, his path took a turn. Soon after, an anthropology course would reveal a powerful passion for conservation.

  • Carleton Ward Jr. (’98) has spent about a decade kayaking, hiking, biking, swimming and horseback riding throughout Florida documenting its natural beauty.

“I remember in that class really understanding for the first time the story of people and the planet and in doing so really becoming concerned with sustainability, and really questioning some of my built-in notions of progress.”


  • A double-crested cormorant spreads its wings from the perch of a submerged sabal palm in the Rainbow River.

After graduation, Ward took an internship with the photo department at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. From there he built a portfolio that would take him around the world, and then back home to Florida.

  • Longleaf pines shrouded in fog at The Nature Conservancy’s Disney Wilderness Preserve, a gateway to the Northern Everglades.

Together with like-minded colleagues, Ward helped brand the Florida Wildlife Corridor, and set out as part of a team dedicated to capture roughly 1000 miles through lm, video and stories that would become a PBS documentary.

  • An Ogeechee Tupelo spreads its branches over a shallow sandbar in tannin-stained water flowing from the Okefenokee Swamp.

“I think one of the things that has kept me going as a photographer is the sense that I’ve been able to share a side of Florida with people that they haven’t previously known or appreciated.”


  • A full moon rises over Kendall Schoelles who tongs for oysters at sunrise in Apalachicola Bay, where his family has been oystering since the 1800s.

For the entire story this piece was based upon, written by Mark Schrope (’93) and featured in the fall 2015 issue of Wake Forest Magazine, visit the Wake Forest Magazine website.

To see more of Carlton's work — including his newest project focused on the Florida Panther — or to follow his latest news on Facebook, visit the links below.