Home from another photo drive in the rockies, I realize today just how lucky we are to share this earth with our animal friends. As someone who also loves photographing wildlife, animals, insects, birds, I am ever-conscious of making the most of my surroundings here in Alberta. Being out near Canmore yesterday, I ventured out to check out the spring offerings in nature, and hopefully capture some wildlife too. I got lucky a couple times!
“Interaction”- shot on Dorrien Smith Spray Trail, Alberta May 11, 2017
Everywhere you look, (if you care to) there are people’s happy faces interacting with the animals around them- wildlife, pets, animals on the street. A woman a few doors down,( pausing in her garden she’s been labouring in with a cup of coffee and a smoke), looks up, eyes closed and lets the sun warm her face as she consciously listens to the dove cooing in the tree. It brings a small smile to her face, and in just that moment, she can escape, momentarily granted a respite from having to think about the crushing stresses she’s currently dealing with and just revel in the songbird’s song. Photographic opportunity?- Her face, in that moment!
As a photographer, portrait opportunities to include pets in shots present themselves often, and it’s fantastic when you can both photograph and consciously observe the interaction in the same moment. Knowing how deep my own personal capacity to love my animals runs, it’s easy to work to evoke that in a family portrait . I ask a few questions, ask how the animal entered my client’s life, and usually get a cute story in the process. As for the photos, they seem to create themselves when the animals are around- people’s faces seem to radiate the purest joy when their creatures are in the shot.
My nephew Tatum a few weeks before the sheep shearing at his farm.
It is absolutely a photographer’s duty to show respect and reverence to the earth around us- applying to anytime we are out in nature. Respecting the earth, leaving no trace, and disturbing nothing, ideally! Particularly when out shooting wildlife– photograph only from afar, respecting the animal’s privacy and space, leaving no trace, and causing no changes to the animal’s normal behaviour (honking, shouting, whistling, startling, etc). Be it Banff or Amboseli, the same rules applied on my safari experiences too- we watched from a safe but regulated distance, waited patiently (hours at a time, sometimes) just to be present for a move or an event in that animal’s day. But never did we make ourselves known, in all ways possible. Restricting our movement, our noise, our engines. We were at times hoping to observe them moving in on a kill, or leaping from a tree branch to another, stalking a predator, etc. Anything that gave us that photographic opportunity, but also a privileged moment to put the camera aside at times, to simply observe how these animals live, survive, exist. Driving the vast Masai Mara or Amboseli, we depended entirely on the expertise of our local Masai driver guides who knew the area, the habits, (and in fact, the animals themselves!)to provide us opportunities to witness behaviours and goings-ons of animals we might normally never have the chance to see. A truly magnificent photographic experience!
Much closer to home in the Kananaskis and Banff area, I can drive it’s roads, climb it’s hills, camp in it’s valleys, being aware always, hoping for a special sighting. More often than not, I’m lucky again!
“The Leap”- after at least an hour or two watching this leopard languish in the retreating sun, we were finally rewarded as he quickly scaled up this tree and leapt to the neighbouring branch. (Kenya)
I’m growing personally as a photographer as I am now revelling consciously in the sheer gratitude I feel for the moments I am granted photographically in capturing these animals we exist with. So. many.moments. What produces equal joy for me is the ability through these channels to share these photos with others. To, in a tiny way, help foster, nurture and encourage the careful harmony we all share.
“The Cooling”-Amboseli, Kenya “Morning’s Breath”- Invermere, BC
My own cat, Gucci, hanging out.