Growing up in a small mountain village in northwest Italy, Stefano Unterthiner spent his early years photographing in the Gran Paradiso National Park and trekking around the beautiful mountains of the Aosta Valley region. He began serious photography at the age of 17, went on to study zoology and, in the fall of 2000, obtained a PhD from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. After completing his studies, Unterthiner returned to Italy and began his career as a zoologist. But his camera was always at his side and it was not long before his hobby turned into an all-consuming lifestyle and profession. His first award was in 2000, when Unterthiner won the prestigious Mario Pastore prize for best Italian young environmental journalist. Unterthiner now travels regularly around the world in search of new subjects for his photo stories. He specializes in telling the life stories of animals, living in close contact with his chosen species for long periods. He also has a strong commitment to wildlife conservation and environmental issues, with a particular interest in the interactions between people and animals. For his first assignment for National Geographic, Unterthiner spent five months in the archipelago of Crozet shooting penguins for the story 'Every Bird a King' (September 2009). Widely published in magazines worldwide, he is the author of six photography books, the latest of which published at the end of 2010, following his assignment for National Geographic on whooper swans. Unterthiner is a regular prizewinner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP).