Photography Resume, Nicholas Hellmuth.

Nicholas Hellmuth has been photographing Maya ruins since he wandered down to Mexico in 1961 with a Leica III-G. He has been engaged in professional photography and archaeological field work since 1965, the year he discovered the 1200 year old Tomb of the Jade Jaguar at Tikal. He graduated from Harvard cum laude with a thesis (summa cum laude) on this fabulous royal burial at Tikal. In 1969 he received a MA degree in anthropology from Brown University with a thesis on the art of the Teotihuacan empire of Mexico and its influence on Maya art of Guatemala. This same year he formed the Foundation for Latin American Anthropological Research (FLAAR) as a federally tax exempt, non-profit research and educational institute. DR Hellmuth has been the Director for over four decades.

Nicholas Hellmuth Resume
Here Nicholas serves as a refuge for a spider monkey in Peten, Guatemala, that someone has scared. The monkey is escaping something to one side, but is now reassured once he grabs ahold of Nicholas. This was in the 1980’s, along the Rio Usumacinta.

Hellmuth was excavator and photographer for a Harvard University Peabody Museum expedition to the Peruvian coastal desert in 1967. He undertook photography and excavation again in Peru during 1968 at Inca period fortress sites in the high Andes for a Yale University project. During 1971 he was awarded an appointment as Visiting Fellow in the Dept. of History of Art, Yale University.

In 1980-82 he again held a three-semester Visiting Fellowship at Yale, concurrent with a one semester Fellowship from the Organization of American States (OAS). His topic was to research the problem of grave robbing at Maya sites. DR Hellmuth subsequently completed a five-year honorary position at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, arranged by Dr. Michael Coe. His focus was analysis of tropical flora and fauna pictured in ancient Maya art (especially felines, reptiles, monkeys, birds, and insects). Hellmuth is also an accomplished nature photographer.

Director of the Yaxha Archaeological Expedition to Guatemala in 1971-1974, Hellmuth also led expeditions to map the ancient Maya sites of Nakum and Topoxte Island. His discoveries in archaeology have led to being a guest on CBS-TV, on an ABC-TV special on Maya archaeology, and on the PBS Odyssey program on the Maya. He has also served as staff consultant for Pyramid Films for their documentary on Maya archaeology of Belize. His work at Yaxha and Nakum was filmed by NBC-TV (by the famous documentary film maker Pierre Dominique Gasseau, Academy Award winner for The Sky Above the Mud Below).

Hellmuth's ability to wear the ancient stone yokes in the pre-Columbian form of their sacred ballgames has led him to be filmed twice, for WBCC-TV and subsequently for a Maya show on the Discovery Channel, a program in the series "Arthur C. Clark's Mysterious Universe."

In 1986 Hellmuth finished his Ph.D. in art history at Karl-Franzens Universitaet, Graz, Austria, on the iconography of Early Classic Maya underworld gods of Guatemala. This opus has been published in a 2-volume English edition and a coffee table bilingual (German-English) edition as "Monster and Men in Maya Art," Akademische Druck u.Verlagsanstalt, Graz, Austria.

As a professional photographer, Dr Hellmuth's records of art and archaeology are increasingly being used for both scientific and popular publications. National Geographic Society used a selection of his photographs to illustrate their hardcover special publication "The Mysterious Maya," by George and Gene Stuart.

Nicholas Hellmuth Resume
Hasselblad magazine has published Nicholas’s photographs of Classic Maya architecture. Hellmuth’s photos are on the front covers of other books.

His photographs of cacao are in books on chocolate by Dr Michael Coe (Yale University) and Sophie Coe; and in a Japanese book on chocolate by Dr Yoshiho Yasugi, MINPAKU, Osaka, Japan (Nicholas was a visiting research professor at this university in the late 1990’s, as an instructor in digital scanning of photographs that had previously been taken with Leica, Hasselblad, and Linhof).

Many Japanese publishers have recognized the quality of his photographic work. Hellmuth-FLAAR photographs of Maya art or architecture have appeared in Japanese books on chocolate, on ancient music, and in lavish Japanese coffee table books on pre-Columbian civilizations.

His photographs of Maya archaeology and associated tropical ecology have been exhibited in Austria, Germany, Guatemala, and across America.

Until BCC decided to withdraw from international multicultural programs, Dr Hellmuth was Visiting Professor at Brevard Community College for six years. He was also a research professor at Rollins College (Florida), at BGSU (Ohio), and Universidad Francisco Marroquin (Guatemala).

Professor Hellmuth's photography equipment in the 1990’s included 3 Leicas, 2 Nikons, 3 Hasselblads, a Linhof 4x5, a Linhof 8x10, plus countless lenses and accessories. FLAAR. Also has a Seitz Super RoundShot, the best 70mm film-based panorama and rollout camera in the world. Overall, FLAAR. has unusually sophisticated camera equipment for an archaeology research institute. The digital equipment available is pictured on our four web sites, and is a professional studio too large to list here.

On the basis of his international recognition and the arsenal of equipment with which he has experience, Hellmuth was selected by Better Light to be the beta-tester for its prototype digital turntable rollout camera system in the late 1990’s.

The entire subsequent 20 years Nicholas continues to do photography, 100% with digital cameras. He has tested and evaluated Phase One, Hasselblad, and Leaf medium format digital camera backs. Presently (2017-2018) he compares and evaluates his Canon EOS 1DX Mark II with Nikon D5: the two best quality and most sophisticated “35mm full-frame digital cameras.” Note that FLAAR always utilizes more than one of the top brands: you can better evaluate the advantages and strong points of each camera brand and model if you have personal experience with each model (he also has a Nikon D810).

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He does macro photography of pollinating insects; telephoto photography of oropendola birds building meter-tall pendant nests; and specializes in photography of Neotropical flowers, fruits, vegetables and other edible and utilitarian plants of the ancient Mayan people. You can see these photographs of Neotropical jungle plants of Mesoamerica on:

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You can experience his interaction with mammals on

So we continue to be active with photography and will attend Photokina 2018 in Cologne.

Nicholas Hellmuth Resume

Nicholas taking photographs with a Nikon 400m at Ranchitos del Quetzal


Nicholas Hellmuth Resume
Erick Flores, member of FLAAR photography team, photographing with a Canon at Aldea Tzetoc


Nicholas Hellmuth Resume
Melanny Quiñonez, member of FLAAR photography team


Most recently updated April 2011.

Design updated June 26, 2008.