To continue with the main topic here, The Essence of Wildlife Photography - Part I around Rainforest Expedition lodges in Peru rainforest.
Finally, the moment which most impressed me... not witnessed, but recorded remotely, a first-ever glimpse of intertwined lives and the hint of the interactions going on all around us but concealed; a vampire bat on the heels of a white lipped peccary, a bloodlust quenched out of sight of the cameras, left to the imagination.
These photos are not simply images or moments captured in time, but fully-fledged experiences; rich, layered memories evoking torrential downpours, passing rainstorms, and sun-drenched days aboard canoes, meandering the sinuous curves of coffee coloured waters. They are discoveries made alone in the night, or else shared with guides or party to new friends sharing in the adventure. They bespeak of a kind of post-Victorian adventurism, open to all: researchers, adventurists, citizen scientists, and even those with but a few moments to spare but the desire to learn and partake in the experience.
Other photos are a different kind of hard work...
They are the attempt to illustrate a specific behaviour, to teach and to inform. They are not the rare, fortuitous photo, the one which all photographers seek, but too rarely encounter. Rather they represent the staged photo. Animals manipulated into poses, or behaviour elicited. Done with the best of intentions, but falling well-short of the term ‘natural’. These photos are not without their value, oftentimes they illustrate rare, or impossible to view behaviours, serving as an important record, whilst also generating interest in the natural world in the public. There is undoubtedly a value to this type of photography, but doubt lies in the execution, and its centrepoint, the photographer, their values and integrity take on a renewed importance.
My response has been transparency, and a commitment to open communication exemplified in Ethical Exif: a watermarked, indelible mark on each photo, a statement of ethical criteria specific to the creation of each individual photo. The shorthand symbols and the associated legend in the caption form a surprisingly comprehensive insight into the manufacture of each photo, and help inform the viewer of the process of the photo’s creation, and impart information important in determining a photographer’s impact.
It is easy to lose ourselves in the gloss of the image. The behaviour, complexity, and hidden lives which lie beyond our horizon of understanding revealed, oftentimes to our sheer amazement. But the beauty of the natural world as it travels through the lens and onto the page is not as straightforward as one might think, and the various outcomes have as much to do with the integrity of the photographer as to the viewer’s responsibility to critically view and evaluate the information they are ingesting.
View responsibly, and support those whose photography exemplifies a commitment to the wildlife they photograph so that we can all continue to enjoy the marvels that the natural world has to offer, and feel good doing it.
I invite you to enjoy nature at responsible in one of the Peru jungle lodge from Rainforest Expeditions.