"Always a courageous visionary."

—Carolee Schneemann (1939 – 2019), avant-garde, multi-media, and feminist artist.

121 photos of exceptional geology, large and small scale, richly captioned, dedicated to the Water Protectors of Standing Rock, North Dakota

Earthforms: Intimate Portraits of Our Planet is an outstanding and beautiful compendium of landscape photography that borders on fine art.”
—Midwest Book Review

Winner of the 2019 Nautilus Gold Award for Art & Photography

What the critics say… 

“Simpson has an eye for naturally occurring patterns and structures, and he presents vivid mineral deposits and eye-catching rock formations. He compares a particularly notable formation to Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream, and it’s hard to deny the resemblance. The captions are informative and will help geological novices understand how the shapes developed. They also offer references to the works of other artists, and their placement in the book’s final pages effectively allows readers to process the images separately. Although the environmentalist message is strong in the opening essays, Simpson’s later commentary emphasizes natural beauty without reiterating the threat that it faces, letting readers draw the connection themselves.”


“Simpson flirts with chaos repeatedly, complicating the easy sensual analogies and undercutting the all-too-familiar ‘surprises’ of high-end nature photography.”

—LYLE REXER, author; critic, curator; columnist for PHOTOGRAPH magazine.

“Earthforms: Intimate Portraits of Our Planet is an outstanding and beautiful compendium of landscape photography that borders on fine art. A visual joy to browse through page by page, this superbly crafted and assembled volume of geological photography by Joel Simpson is a very highly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Contemporary Photography collections and the supplemental curriculum lists of student geologists. Of special note is the inclusion of Geological Time Scale end papers and informative essays by Danny Sheehan, Lyle Rexer, Chase Iron Eyes, and John Farndon.”


[T]he pictures in this book are breathtaking. The majority of them are digitally captured or captured by film, yet they appear as if they are otherworldly. Photographs of glaciers, lakes, salt fractures, and of course many rock formations are included for our enjoyment. The locations of these formations range all across the world: in the U.S. they are in California, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Massachusetts, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Hawaii; elsewhere in the world we travel to Ireland, Turkey, Canada, Mongolia, Wales, Jordan, Spain, Madagascar, Sardinia, Italy, Vietnam, and Iceland….Flipping through the pages, the pictures took me somewhere else, and I longed to be by those formations soaking up their beauty. There is something for everyone in this book, open up its pages and be taken away.

—Rachel Dehning for READER VIEWS (online)

See What Readers Have to Say

A Work of Art!!

Joel Simpson’s work both surprises and delights. He truly immerses the viewer in the majesty of the earth, providing his unique perspective to the various formations and vistas. I value his work even more in this dystopian period where I have no access to nature.

The Perfect Gift!

I’ve been giving this book as a gift for friends – and they love it! I could stare at the photos for hours – Joel’s work brings out the beauty of the rhythm and texture of the earth. Makes you glad to be alive!

It’s Worth Every Penny!

I bought your book at full price when you first published it, but I don’t regret it. It’s worth every penny. Extraordinary images that I have looked at again and again, seeing new revelations every time. As an artist, I thank you for sharing your art.

You’ve never seen a landscape book quite like this

Sher Safran interviews Joel Simpson (19 min)
Rachel Wilkins interviews Joel Simpson (38 min)
Photography by Joel Simpson

About Joel Simpson

       As a child, JOEL SIMPSON collected rocks and fossils, and since then, rock textures have held a particular fascination for him. He also loved to draw and taught himself photography starting at age 13. He made careers in college English and foreign language teaching (PhD comparative literature, Brown,1976) and performed and taught jazz piano (Master of Music, Loyola, New Orelans, 1994), before going professional in photography in 2002. From 2003 to 2015, inspired by prehistoric sculpture, he created an extended series of body projections, which he showed in Paris (Musée de l’érotisme), Tours, Rome, Barcelona, and many US galleries and art fairs. Images from this collection have been published in Silvershotz (Australia), View Magazine (Brussels), Camera Arts (Boulder, CO) and Focus Exposures (online). Having explored many photographic modes (e.g. social documentary, figure studies, scrap metal, portraiture, fashion, archeology, landscapes), he now focuses on geological photography, his first love. He went around the world in 2014 and continues to travel extensively in search of provocative mineral formations. 
       In 2007 Simpson curated a 125-artist photography show at the Williamsburg Art and Historical (WAH) Center in Brooklyn, Sun Pictures to Mega-Pixels, focusing on non-silver-based photography. The WAH Center continues to show and collect his work. He has lectured and taught photography extensively, including  seminars on the Colorado Plateau. His awards include ten Black and White Spider Awards (2012–2020, UK), and was named one of the “10 Best Landscape Photographers of 2019” by One Eyeland (India). His 168-pp book, Earthforms: Intimate Portraits of Our Planet, was featured on the cover of Natural History Magazine (June, 2019), and won the 2019 Nautilus Gold Award for Art and Photography.