Muench's Make National Parks Photography a Family Tradition

December 17, 2009, 12:12 pm
For three generations, the name Muench has been synonymous with images that capture the beauty, diversity and majesty of the American landscape. The patriarch of the Muench family, Josef, started the family’s photographic journey in Germany at the turn of the century, traveling from Bavaria to Detroit to Santa Barbara in pursuit of his craft and his adventure. After the depression, Josef entered Arizona for the first time, noting that, “When I first saw the desert I liked it. It was new and different. It immediately took on a meaning to me. I had heard it was barren. It isn’t. A little cactus–so delicate and beautiful, can hide from you. You have to go slowly, and look carefully.” It wasn’t long before he met with the editor for Arizona Highways who decided to feature Josef's photograph of the Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Not long after the initial run of Rainbow Bridge, Muench's name became synonymous with Arizona Highways.
After World War II, Josef decided that it was time to devote his life solely to photography and travel. Throughout his career, he traveled to the Grand Canyon hundreds of time and visited Monument Valley 100 more. In between his journeys to Africa, Alaska, Asia, Canada, Europe, Hawaii, and the Rocky Mountains, Josef passed his craft on to his son David, who was able to fill his shoes amply.
Traveling the U.S. since early childhood with his father, David never really knew another way of life. His 4 x 5 large format camera is as much a part of him as his innovative eye. Inventor of original and oft-imitated approaches to the landscape, David brings his own idea of geography into both his spectacular color and black and white images and his international reputation derives from an unflinching embrace of nature’s nuances.
Like Josef, Dave scoured the globe in search the power and beauty of the primal landscape photographing in Antarctica, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Japan, Morocco, South Africa, the Galapagos, Patagonia, Russia, Belarus. And like his father, too, his son, Marc, followed in his footsteps.
Marc Muench has been a professional landscape and sports photographer for more than 20 years and may be best known from his work on Canon Photo Safari on ESPN. His photographs have appeared in Time, National Geographic, Traveler, Ski, Skiing, Sunset, Outside, Sierra Magazine, and like his grandfather, in Arizona Highways. In 2003, Marc was designated by Kodak as a Kodak Photo Icon.
Bruce Babbitt, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior said of Josef, "Muench is the ultimate environmentalist. By showing us the incredible natural beauty we have inherited, he inspires us to care more deeply for our world and its natural treasures." David and Marc continue to carry his torch and American Park Network is honored to celebrate eight years working with Marc as our photo editor. Both Marc and David’s images grace the insides and cover of each of our publications, conveying the beauty, diversity and wonder of our parks and public land. More importantly, like Josef before them, the Muench’s photos are instrumental in introducing our parks to a broader audience who may also be inspired to help learn more, visit and ultimately protect these incredible and incomparable places.
To learn more about the Muench’s work, publications, prints and photo workshops, please visit