No doubt it was childhood in Japan, where he spent a lot of time in the mountains and at the ocean, that gave Tim such a strong interest in exploring nature, both above and below water.
According to his mother, his first publication was in second grade, when a poem Tim wrote in Japanese about his pet turtle was selected for the local newspaper. Since then, his passion for exploring the natural world has led him to various remote corners of the planet in pursuit of scientific insight, photographs, and stories.
He first went to the rain forests of Borneo in 1987, and since then the Asia-Pacific region, and especially the Indonesian archipelago, have been a special focus of both his scientific research and photography. Tim has photographed over twenty stories for National Geographic magazine, and more recently has also filmed for the BBC’s Planet Earth II among other programs. Always pushing the limits of visual storytelling with the latest tools, some of his well-known wildlife images have been created with remote controlled cameras deployed high in the rain forest canopy. His longest collaboration has been with his wife, renowned Boston University orangutan researcher Cheryl Knott. On annual trips to western Borneo, Tim has photographed and filmed wild orangutans, documenting unique cultural traditions and raising awareness about ecological threats.
He is most well-known for being the first person to see and document all thirty-nine species of the spectacular Birds-of-Paradise in the wilds of New Guinea with Cornell colleague Edwin Scholes, a quest that spanned eight years and eighteen expeditions to the region. His interest in this group continues with annual filming and research expeditions. He has become especially fascinated with the convergence of motion and still photography as cameras have become more powerful, and in how these tools can be applied to both scientifically document the natural world as well as convey inspiring natural histories.