Peter Menzel

Peter Menzel

Peter J. Menzel (born 7 Feb 1948, in Hartford, Conn.) is an American freelance photojournalist best known for his coverage of scientific and technological subjects. His work has appeared in many national and international publications including "National Geographic", "Forbes", "Fortune", "Wired", "Geo", "Stern", "Paris Match", "Life" and "Le Figaro". In conjunction with his wife, writer/producer Faith d'Aluisio, Menzel has also published five books, including "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" (1994) and "Hungry Planet: What The World Eats" (2005). He is the founder of [ Peter Menzel Photography] .


Menzel became a professional photographer in 1970 and soon began to focus on high-tech stories, including virtual reality, DNA fingerprinting, micromachines and solar cars. But he has also covered more traditional photojournalistic subjects. His work on the Kuwait oil well fires of 1991 ran as a 26-page cover story for German "Geo" and won a "Communication Arts" award.

His photographs have been exhibited at the United Nations, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the National Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Science in Boston, and Visa Pour L'Image, the annual international photojournalism congress in Perpignan, France.

Menzel and d'Aluisio live in Napa, California. They have four adult sons.


Material World

Published in 1994, "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" is a photo essay that profiles 30 statistically average families from around the world and what they own. Each chapter’s main photograph frames a family in front of their house, surrounded by all their material possessions. Menzel said the idea came to him after coming back from trips to Somalia and Kuwait and hearing Madonna's song "Material Girl" on the radio. [From an interview April 2007 with Full interview available at]

The book was assembled with help from the United Nations as part of its International Year of the Family project [Endrst, Elsa B. "Material World: A Global Family Portrait" UN Chronicle. June, 1995.] , and also includes a photomontage that juxtaposes the meals, toilets and television sets from each of the 30 countries.

Hungry Planet

Similar in style, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats presents what 30 families eat in a week through a combination of compelling photographs and thoughtful essays. Each family’s profile includes detailed descriptions about their food purchases and a portrait of the family surrounded by a week’s worth of groceries.

The book captures families from 24 countries, offers essays from Michael Pollan, Charles C. Mann, and Marion Nestle (among others), and won Best Book of the Year by the James Beard Foundation in 2006.


2006 - Book of the Year, James Beard Foundation ("Hungry Planet")
2006 - Best Writings on Food, James Beard Foundation ("Hungry Planet")
2006 - Book of the Year, Harry Chapin World Hunger Media Foundation ("Hungry Planet")
2005 - Award of Excellence, Picture of the Year Foundation ("Hungry Planet")
2004 - Picture of the Year, National Press Photographers Association
2000 - First Place, Science Photography, World Press Photo Foundation ("Robo Sapiens")
1999 - Best Writings on Food, James Beard Foundation ("Man Eating Bugs")
1998 - [ Audie Award] for Abridged Nonfiction, Audio Publishing Association ("Women in the Material World")
1991 - [ Arts Magazine]
1991 - World Press Photo Foundation
1985 - Picture of the Year, National Press Photographers Association


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