Norman Myers: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley
Wildlife Photography from Kenya
In an e-mail exchange following the Conversations with History interview with Dr. Myers, Harry Kreisler asked about the influence of Dr. Myers's photographic work on his later career as an environmental scientist. His reply follows:
12th March 1999
I am glad you like the wildlife photos. You've asked me to elaborate on my photography:
During my five years as a professional photographer, I wanted to portray African animals in their African environment. I wasn't interested in close-ups such as many tourists seem to want. They approach lions a good deal closer than they would manage in the San Diego Zoo, and with their telephoto lenses they could take photos of the lion's tonsils. I wanted to portray lions within their own living space. And the same of course for elephants, gazelles, flamingos, mambas, and, not unnaturally (so to speak), acacia trees and other plant life that supports the animals. Because I spent so many hours each day hunting through my camera viewfinder for the best overall image depicting, e.g., a lion and its living space, I began to watch out for everything that could affect the lion: heat, shade, water, flies, fellow lions, and the lengthy like. I learned to see, in the sense of truly seeing, what it was I was looking at. Without my work as a professional photographer, I would have remained blind to many of the beauties and mysteries of African wildlife.
At the same time, I got to appreciate that a lion does not live in isolation. It is always, at every moment of its existence, a lion in conjunction with zebras and leopards and crocodiles and giraffes -- and, increasingly, humans who encroach onto the zebras' habitat.
Looking at wildlife through a camera lens enables one, encourages one, and even obliges one to see things as the Ancient Greeks urged us to view our world: to see things steadily and to see them whole.
To the photographs [jpg thumbnails total ~90k]
See also the Conversations with History interview with Dr. Myers by Harry Kreisler.
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