You may have noticed I take some photos of some critters that some people feel would be better off left alone. I do this for a few reasons. I really just love nature. ALL nature. Even the parts of it that some people might deem scary, ugly, or dangerous.
I find all of Mother Nature’s creatures beautiful and deserving of sharing. I share these things not for any kind of shock value. In fact, I was actually quite surprised the first time somebody told me they thought I was crazy for getting so close to a snake. I honestly had no idea people loathed them so much.
So, I share the photos to hopefully show the beauty of things that might seem scary to people. Snakes, alligators, spiders, etc. don’t need to be feared. They need to be respected. Knowledge is power when it comes to staying safe when confronted with a critter that scares you. 99.99% of the time, an animal is more afraid of you than you are of it. It just wants to be left alone to do wild animal things.
This brings me to the question of, how do I get so close while leaving the animals alone and keeping both myself and the critters safe? A long telephoto lens, for one thing.
It’s very important as a wildlife photographer to promote ethical practices when it comes to sharing space with animals of all kinds. I would never dream of baiting any kind of creature to make it come close to me. If fact, I try very hard to not disturb my subjects at all. I shoot from a distance, often obscured by trees or other plants.
If I ever notice an animal acting distressed in the slightest by my presence, I move on and let them be. This is especially true of animals with young! The times I’m lucky enough to find babies, I take a quick snap from as far as I can possibly be, and I move on before they feel the slightest bit threatened. Photos where it appears I was incredibly close to an animal were most assuredly taken with a big ol’ zoom lens, and often cropped way in to make it seem even closer than it was.
I hope my photos of some of these misunderstood animals, and the captions I post with them over on Instagram and Facebook can help some people feel a little less afraid and maybe a little more curious about the natural world around them. Everything has a place and serves a purpose in a healthy ecosystem. Yes, even venomous snakes. They’re all important and needed.
The reason I do what I do will always be to spread awareness and help foster a love of nature. The only way we can help assure our natural world will be protected, is to love it and to help teach others to love it too.