Photographer Chris Ranier spends 40 years capturing sacred sites and moments across the world

Chris Rainier, a documentary photographer and National Geographic explorer, has been devoted to exploring and understanding the sacred. What does sacred mean for different people and different cultures from all corners of the globe? Is it a landscape, a nature’s wonder, a man-made building, or a language?

Searching for answers to these questions, Chris spent the last forty years traveling across all seven continents and photographing what different people see as sacred. He collected it all in his book Sacred: In Search of Meaning, and today we share with you some of the magnificent photos he took on his long journey.

Chris is best known and highly respected for his documentation of endangered cultures and traditional languages around the globe. He is a fellow at the Royal Geographical Society in London and has published books documenting traditional cultures around the globe, from the Stone Age tribes of New Guinea to the ancient tradition of tattoo body marking. He is also the director of the Cultural Sanctuaries Foundation, a global program focused on legally preserving biodiversity and cultural heritage.

From the peaks of Tibet to the icebergs of Antarctica, from the vibrant mysticism of India to the mysteries of the Silk Road, from the jungles of New Guinea to the druid stones of Scotland, and from the deserts of the Southwest United States to the rock art of aboriginal Australia and Africa. What do all of these places have in common? And what makes them different? People from all of these places want to understand and experience the sacred. After all, the drive to do so is nearly as old as humanity itself. But they all have different views on the concept – and that’s one of the things that make this world so beautiful and diverse.

“Countless cultures have looked for it in the divine gestures of the natural landscape. The majesty of snow-capped mountains, the glow of the full moon, the power of a magical waterfall, the endless sands of the Sahara Desert, the towering height of the tallest trees, and the subtle essence of a lotus flower. We have created remarkable buildings in hopes of capturing the essence of what we felt to be sacred.”


Chris’s project explores all the similarities and differences between what various cultures find sacred, and it does it in a way that we love most – through photography. Enjoy more of Chris’s photos below, and make sure to order his book Sacred: In Search of Meaning where you can see all of them. You can also learn more about Chris and follow his work on his website.

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