As a cinematographer and producer, John has contributed to some of National Geographic’s most high profile programming in the past decade. In October 2011, John was awarded an Emmy for Best Cinematography in a Nature category for his work on National Geographic Televisions’ “Great Migrations” series. He also contributed as Segment Producer on all four episodes of this global series. In 2013, John was again awarded for Best Cinematography for his work on the National Geographic landmark series “Untamed Americas”. Over the past 3 years, John contributed to the lyrical and poetic imagery of “The 12 O’clock Boys”. A critically acclaimed feature doc released in theaters all over the United States, it’s a gripping and emotional tale of a young boy from Baltimore who comes of age in the shadow of a renegade biker gang.
Whether it’s climbing 180 feet up the giant trees in Borneo to film bizarre gliders of the jungle, braving the wilds of Sudan to re-discover a forgotten migration, telling the story a female farmer in Brazil, scouring the Alaskan tundra for the largest brown bears on the planet, standing on the edge of an active Nicaraguan volcano to film green parakeets, riding amongst the pack of a biker gang in Baltimore, dodging huge elephant seals on the beaches of the Falkland islands, or paddling the swollen Amazon in search of giant river otters and skittish Scarlett macaws, John has travelled far and wide to cover some of the worlds greatest spectacles.
John began his career in feature films as an art department and camera assistant. His transition into documentary filmmaking began in 2001 as a gear guru at National Geographic. He moved into an editorial role in 2004, joining the Natural History Department, where his technical knowledge became integral to production logistics. John quickly became one of the few trained Phantom HD operators on the east coast. Aside from shooting spots for the Nature Conservancy, and commercials for sports giants ESPN, Nike and STX, John is currently at work producing and filming series programs at National Geographic Television, as well as with a variety of ad clients like Under Armour and the University of MD. John has just completed work for a hosted series @ The National Geographic called “Urban Jungle”. It chronicles the unique relationship between people and animals that occupy the same territory within cities, towns and spaces all over the world.
In 2009, John founded his own production company, Benam Films, Inc., where he continues his commitment to inspiring people to care about the planet, as well as pursuing visual excellence and creative work in the commercial/industrial fields. The company motto is “Life At Any Speed”. Everyone has a story to tell, and it’s the narrative, as well as compelling visuals, that drives John and his passionate collaborators. A lifelong resident of Maryland, John resides in Baltimore with his wife, Angela, and two young boys.