Globe-trotting photographer connects people to wildlife

Photography has taken her all over the world – to six of the seven continents, from Western Australia to Sumatra to the Galapagos. It’s even brought her face to face with the wildlife she so loves to capture on camera – sometimes, too close, as when a bear charged her in Alaska.

One of her favorite places is Indonesia, where she had a close encounter – in a good way – with whale sharks.

“I was swimming alone with five or six of them at a time for hours. And it was just unbelievable,” she says. “It was really wonderful though, because I got this one shot. With my background in mathematics, I’ve always been really drawn to pattern and light. I noticed that light was defracting around my body. And I could control these lines and I wanted the lines to meet the spots of the whale sharks. And I got this one shot where everything lined up and I looked at it in my accommodation that night and I just started crying. I was like, ‘Yes, this is it.’”

Award-winning whale shark photo. (Photo by Kristi Odom)

That photo ended up winning a Nature’s Best Photography award and the Smithsonian exhibited it for a year starting October 2017.

“Here I am, this shy, introverted person that all of a sudden had an image that’s seen in a museum that has almost 10 million visitors a year,” Odom says.

Now the introvert goes to conferences and speaks in front of thousands. She leads conservation-focused workshops. (This year, those will be in Bolivia, Kenya and New Zealand). Besides the Smithsonian, she’s had an image up in Times Square, on display at conferences like CES and Photoplus, and in various publications including Forbes, Outside magazine,,, ABC news and She’s also received more than 60 international photography awards, including two Nature’s Best Photography awards, 26 Fearless Photography Awards and over 30 awards from Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, earning the title of Master of WPPI.

And now she’s expanded her skillset by opening a new branch of her company, thanks to faster processors and graphics cards in laptops.

“I’ve just started doing video work over the last year and a half, and that’s because of the technology that’s now available. Currently my workstation is the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo, and this laptop opens up so many possibilities,” she says. “I don’t need a big desktop to do my video editing. I can do it on the road, and I can have my timeline down at the bottom and yet have all this space to see the quality of my video. I can edit it and I don’t have to toggle back and forth between screens. Having a bigger area to be able to look at my photos and look at my videos and have everything else on this second monitor, it’s a game changer for creators on the road.”

For Odom, the second 4K monitor housed just above the keyboard makes video editing on the road “extremely accessible and doable.”

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