“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 from tours and travels began appearing in magazines and corporate projects while I received awards in international competitions, and had images exhibited in prominent museums/galleries (BBC/London, China, Barcelona, Canada, Carnegie, Hollywood Director’s Guild, West Point Military Academy). Images have been published now for 40 years by companies including 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, I had also been gaining experience leading interpretive, backcountry hikes and overnight training treks as part of my park ranger duties, and as an assistant on some of the international photo tours I attended in the 80s & 90s. I also owned a lodging business on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska and had began taking travelers on short day trips to wildlife areas around the Kenai. I learned a lot about the Alaska tourism industry during the 20 years of operating Kenai Peninsula Condos.
As I received more and more requests from visiting photographers to show them hot spots in Alaska, I began to think about integrating photography into a more inclusive, memorable, all-in-one experience for fellow travelers. This led to the creation of Alaska Photo Adventures. Our mission statement emphasizes ethical standards modeled after iLCP and NANPA, with a guiding principle of minimal impact on the land, animals, natives and planet. From this foundation of respect, images with incredible, timeless impact and depth emerge.
Other passions involve consulting on photography projects for individuals and agencies, coaching photographers on goals, photo techniques and integration with life/work, teaching Photography and Media Ethics at University of Alaska, and pro bono support for NGOs involved in health and conservation issues.
My lifelong obsession continues to be documenting unique human-animal relationships and the limits of compassion between species, communities and cultures. There are many ways to interact and address life’s issues. Better choices can be made with better perspectives.
Many of us don’t “connect the dots” between our personal lives/beliefs and the rest of the world. How we live and interact sends ripples (see Annie Griffith’s work) through our families, friends and local neighborhoods to global politics and economics. My work entails connecting visual dots and emotional reactions to physical consequences.
Political and philosophical differences aside, especially with all the Covid issues, fears, mistrust and confusion in the world, images still connect us personally and globally. My hope is to illustrate common joys, desires and fears between both people and animals of all colors and appearances, and motivate others to widen their “compassion boundaries”.
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