Jean-Philippe Soule

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 where for 5 years he 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 took him to Asia for seven years of adventure. He trekked in the Himalayas, explored jungles in Sumatra and Irian-Jaya, Indonesia, lived for 6 months with a family of shamans among the secluded Mentawai tribe on the island of Siberut ( and lived in Japan for three years, learning the language and the intricacies of the culture while working as a language teacher. Most recently he led the three-year CASKE 2000 expedition through Central America that concluded in late 2001.

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 Photographer) and his photos have been published in the USA by the National Geographic Society, Paddler, Blue, Marie Claire and Texas Monthly, and various magazines in Japan and Central America. Numerous photos have been featured in educational curriculum, in children's books, textbooks, and in museums. His documentaries have appeared on Native Planet, Viewfinder Documentaries,, and Learning Outfitters. Many non-profit organizations from around the world, including the United Nations, regularly request images from Jean-Philippe to use in promoting humanitarian or cultural projects.

In early 2000 during the CASKE expedition he co-founded Native Planet, a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit Organization. Its mission is to promote cultural preservation and small-scale cultural 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 lists the needs of specific villages, and connects individuals and organizations to genuine opportunities to give assistance. For more information please visit the Native Planet website at

Photos of Jean-Philippe by Yumi Soule 

J-Philippe’s signature is shooting photos that tell a story. Unlike many professionals, he prefers candid shots that capture 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 with Indigenous peoples. J-Philippe often spends days building rapport and relationships in a village before shooting his first frames.

As a photographer, J-Philippe will consider all assignments related to world cultures and adventure/leisure travel, especially those with a focus on indigenous-related topics. His experience guiding in mountain, jungle and ocean (diving and sea-kayaking) environments, his language skills (English, French, Japanese, Spanish, Indonesian) and his broad network of contacts he is developing through the Native Planet NGO makes him uniquely qualified to execute photo assignments in areas where others would have difficulty operating. 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, from border crossings to tribal politics. Photography isn’t just a job, it is a way of life, a way of making friends and in J-Philippe's opinion, the best kind of international relations.

For periodical or book editors interested in J-Philippe’s work, contact him directly at
(J-Philippe often teams with travel writer Luke Shullenberger who is also available for assignments).

Jean-Philippe’s Last Work:
The villages of Guatemala

Jean-Philippe’s Future Documentary:
The Color of India (coming January 2003).

Portfolio :     Guatemala   -   Panama   -   Japan   -   Honduras   -   Misc.

Photo Galleries   -   Assignments   -   Digital Imaging   -   Website Design

J-Philippe's Main Page          Viewfinder Documentaries          Native Planet