Whether I’m traveling, or in my studios in Eastern Massachusetts and the Lowcountry of South Carolina, I’ve always been drawn to photographing all types of animals. I began with studio portraits, using lights, formal furnishings, and painted backdrops. Then I started to go outside, with natural light, and the challenging task of photographing animals in their natural habitat.
Over the last seven years, I’ve been particularly inspired to capture images of birds of prey, then expanding to include other large birds. This time I started in their natural habitat, spending many hours outside, waiting and watching, capturing osprey breeding, great blue heron building their nests, and egrets flying majestically over the marsh.
In ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Greek mythology, and many religions, birds were symbols of spirituality, of spirit. Whenever I photograph birds, I feel other forces at work as well. Almost every time, the birds perform for me. At times they are stunningly graceful. At others, they are quite threatening. But always, I feel that sense of spirit.
I was also drawn to the instinct of wild animals and birds to survive from the moment they’re born. They are taught survival skills by their parents. It’s a daily practice – a necessity for them to learn how to survive in the wild, with extremes of weather, predators, and the challenges each day brings. I came to realize the parallel between human existence and the wild creatures I’m so drawn to photograph.
Over time, I instinctively began creating evocative portraits of the birds I’d photographed in the wild, by using painterly backgrounds and techniques in digital editing. I’ve come full-circle, harking back to my studio portrait days, but now the images are even more evocative. With the textured studio-esque application to my images of wild birds, I’m creating a more “dignified” setting for them. It’s incongruous. It forces us to see them differently, out of context. Really, nature is dignified too. But we tend not to see it that way. If you’re looking at an eagle in a distant pine tree, you’re not seeing it the same way as when you remove the surroundings partially obstructing it, and get up close – really see the bird – making it, and the depth of its presence, accessible.
I’m honoring these noble creatures, and the spirit they evoke.