I think I’ve been doing it wrong all this time
Took a stroll down to the “Wild Animal Park” in San Diego. I’ve heard many tales that this place was not very good, and I’m now officially confirming this fact.
However, I do feel that it is important to help donate and protect these animals, as we are essentially wiping their habitats from them, and many of them are just dying off. It’s really quite unfortunate.
On a lighter note, here are my thoughts on photographing animals: It’s not really an interest of mine, I find, though some animals can be challenging, for the most part, it’s highly based on
c) lots of patience, coupled with more luck.
So out of all the types of photography out there, animals are my least favorite. Though I speak about wild animals. I think the hike, and being outdoors coupled with the fact that you’re taking pictures makes it for a more enjoyable experience, but I’m not quitting my day job any time soon taking pictures of wild animals.
Domesticated animals that people love, on the other hand is quite different. I treat those as I would do kids, or a family member. Only a lot of the same principals apply. It requires a) Luck b) equipment (though not as much because they’re not wild and you can get close to them). and c) luck.
This shot reminded me of a Soul Asylum lyric. Titled “Homesick”. …”I’m homesick for the home I never had”. I thought it was deeply apropos, as this baby elephant was most likely born in captivity, and never really knew his roots.
“The Fade” is actually an allusion to the video game Dragon Age.
It initially is an un-remarkable photo of an element, that looked too blended in with the background, so I deemed it a bad photo. But the more I noticed it blended in, the more I realized, how tragic it is for the elephant to fade into the wall. Like he’s moving into obscurity like the rest of his kind over in Africa. And pretty soon, there will be nothing left of elephants, except on walls and paintings. They ended where they began.
When I first took this photo, this exact thought came to mind. “We are no different, yet we stare at you like some wild beast, to be gawked at behind caged walls.”
And so the title of the photo during post process just became “Judge not, let ye be judged”. And a brief little text snippet to go with it:
“Why are you looking at me like that?
Do you think I’m of any lesser importance in this world than you?
We’re not that much different, you and I.
Yet you have chosen to cast that first stone. ”
This action shot was when the lioness actually started to move. It was a hot day, so they just sat there and hung out for a bit.
It just reminded me of a childhood memory. A movie I found very un-interesting at the time starring Robert Redford, now I want to watch it again, I’m sure I have a much different perspective on life.
Back to the original intent of this post. I’ve been laying low from photography for awhile now. I do feel like I’ve reached a stumbling block in terms of creativity, so I’ve just been searching for my purpose and style. Been reading some articles, one of which was from Steve McCurry. If you don’t know who he is, you may know him from one of his famous photos, “The Afghan Girl”. He has a blog here. And you can do a web search on his body of work.
Here’s the quote I took out his article in “Outdoor Photography” magazine.
“One critical element of all this,” McCurry adds, “is you have to engage your surroundings. As you move through the situation, as you move through those streets of Jodhpur, you have to engage—the people, a dog or a cat or a cow or a child. I think you have to interact with these things and stop and talk with somebody or play with somebody. That’s really important because then you’re inside of your surroundings, you’re inside the situation, you’re not an observer, you’re not on the outside looking in. You’re in it. When you’re inside of it, you’re not separate. You’re one with the thing, with that place. And a lot of it has to do with interacting with the situation.” -Steve McCurry
All this time, I’ve been trying to do the opposite. During my private or portrait sessions, I of course have to engage the subject and try to interact to bring life or get certain looks out of the subject. However, for events, I’ve always attempted to be the distant observer. More of a photo journalistic paradigm, where I feel that If I’m “In their moment”, I’ve altered history. They won’t be natural if they know I’m present, the subjects won’t be natural. So generally, I try to shoot along the fringes, and sniping my candids”. It’s worked for me so far, but I’m now thinking of it in a different light. Maybe, what Steve is saying is, in his environment, where he really doesn’t fit in at all. –He’s in exotic locales like India, or China, Mongolia, where he sticks out like a store thumb– We as photographers generally stick out like sore thumbs with all the gear we lug around so we’re not ‘that’ much different. But what he is trying to get at is, because you stick out, and there’s no possible way anyone can blend in. People know there are cameras there, and based on that fact alone, you’ve already altered their reality. So you may as well interact with the it, get comfortable, and in doing so, then those unguarded moments will come. Because ultimately, they will be at ease.
I guess to some degree, I do that when shooting the couples ahead of time, so they do get to know me and they’re not meeting myself or the ginormous cameras for the first time. But that’s just two people out of the entire wedding party or event. I’m thinking maybe I should be more assertive in introducing myself and being more outgoing, rather than my typical stoic self.
Posted on March 28, 2010, in Aperature and tagged elephants, extinction, gorillas, lions, preserve animals, san diego wild animal park, silverback gorillas, wild animal park, wildlife photography. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.