“To be ignored by an animal is one of the greatest honors in wildlife photography” – R.L.
My first inspiration in photography was my uncle, a Hollywood photographer and Jerry Lewis’ personal photographer. We used to laugh endlessly at bloopers he would bring home of famous actors, and I was in awe of the unscripted moments he caught between takes.
But the city life was not for me. I worked seasonally for many years as a Park Ranger for the NPS, USFS and USFWS on secluded islands in California, deserts in Arizona, and eventually Alaska. Between seasons I studied jazz piano at Berklee College in Boston, and went on self-assigned and formal photo tours to countries on every continent, including Antarctica, Galapagos, Kenya, Sweden, India, Micronesia, etc..
Photos and stories began appearing in magazines and corporate projects. Awards in international competitions followed, with images exhibited in prominent museums and galleries (BBC/London, China, Barcelona, Canada, Carnegie, Hollywood Director’s Guild, West Point Academy).
I’ve worked with several photo agencies (Associated Press, Gamma, Black Star, Tony Stone, ZUMA) over the years. Some of my most memorable projects included the Exxon Valdez spill, Iditarod race, and working with NGOs in Ecuador, Thailand, Mexico, etc. Images were published by National Geographic, Smithsonian, Time, Newsweek, Terre Sauvage, Der Spiegel, etc. They have also been used in billboards, murals, NBC, PBS, subways, documentaries, etc.
During this time, in the 1980s and 90s, I was also leading interpretive, backcountry hikes and overnight training to new rangers and volunteers as part of my ranger duties. I also assisted on some of the international tours I attended, offering a lot of the information I knew about similar island biology and Alaska ecology, as well as photography and Spanish translation.
I also owned a summer lodging business for almost 20 years on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska and had began taking travelers on short day trips to wildlife areas around the area. As I received increasing requests from visiting photographers to show them hot spots in Alaska, the day tours began to grow and focus on wildlife. This led to the creation of Alaska Photo Adventures, LLC, which currently gives 7-day all-inclusive photo tours to brown bear hot spots and wildlife in Southcentral Alaska.
Other Motivations & Goals
Passions have included coaching photographers on projects, field photo techniques, integrating life and work goals, travel photography. I’ve taught courses at the University of Alaska in Photo and Digital Darkroom Techniques, and Ethics in Media and Photography. I continue to enjoy giving pro bono support in the form of time, images and promotion for NGOs involved in health and conservation issues worldwide.
There are many ways to interact and address life’s issues. Better choices can be made with better perspectives. How we interact with our families, friends and local neighborhoods affects global politics and economics. Many people don’t connect the dots between personal beliefs and the world’s problems, based on a limited perspective.
My lifelong obsession has been to find and document unique human-animal relationships and the limits of compassion between species, communities and cultures. Despite our physical, political, or ideological differences, especially with the fear, mistrust and confusion in the world today, images still connect us personally and globally.
Whether our issues involve health, natural resources, human resources, power struggles, or trust between neighbors or governments, my goal is to let the (visual) dots connect us to our common emotions, and widen our compassion boundaries.
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