(Note: Aurora Images was merged into Cavan Images in 2019)

When you begin searching through the collection on Aurora it’s clear that you’re not just looking at the standard natural world collection. Aurora isn’t supplanting technically skilled photographers into wild environments and asking models to hold a pose. No, Aurora’s collection seems to capture what we all look for in adventure – epic moments of awe. Something that can only be revealed by the kind of photographer who is as much part of the experience as they are there for the shot, the kind of person who becomes a part of the team; friends with the daredevil, with the base jumper, the expedition team, mountaineer and sherpa.

We’re thrilled to provide our members with access to discover Aurora’s collection and wanted to provide you all with a little insight from the founder himself, José Azel, on what the collection is all about.

So José, what was it that originally drew you into the wonderful world of image making?

I began as an editorial photographer working for major international publications like National Geographic and Time. Personally, I always saw myself as someone who went forward with a camera, captured interesting things about all types of subject and then communicated those stories to magazine readers.

It’s interesting that you say that as the images in Aurora’s collection seem to have the authenticity or sensitivity, that you would expect from an editorial photographer. Is there a particular aesthetic that you know sits just right with the Aurora style?

This is a very difficult question to answer fully, but by looking at our archive I do believe you see a style which could be described as real people doing real things shot by those who also do those things. Our photographers have a passion for the subject matter and it translates into the image.

What led you to start the collection?

I saw the beginning of the digital revolution and wanted to participate. Computers were going to change everything for us. I thought bringing together some of the greatest visual storytellers of our era together under one brand would help us create new ways of telling stories in this soon to come cyber world. I was too early with that idea in 1993 when the company was founded and the company, Aurora, settled into a more traditional editorial agency, then a stock agency.

Technology always seemed to be part of what we did and almost a decade later we tried to create a business that would join smaller player against the giants of stock. You might like to read this piece I wrote called Napkins and Photojournalism.

Are you ever surprised by where the images from the collection end up?

I can’t say I am surprised by where are images are used. I am surprised that they are not used more!

Just for fun now, what creatives have inspired you?

I was influenced greatly by Bill Allard, Elliott Erwitt and in general the great photojournalists of the 1970’s.