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A Photographer Less Traveled

I was confronted with more decisions than I was prepared to make while designing and developing this website, so I decided to do a bit of homework and study the websites of other nature photographers. I took note of what worked and what didn’t work – from content to lightboxes – and I also read my fair share of bios. I found something strikingly formulaic in how many photographers described themselves. Not inherently bad but arguably overused, a bio might go something like this, “In the pursuit of the perfect picture, Ellen has rescued a baby sloth, she once was almost mistaken for a lady deer by an immature buck, and most memorably, Ellen was socially accepted by a pod of narwhals.” The series of light-hearted and often humorous anecdotes capture some aspect of what it’s like to brush arms with nature across the globe in unusual ways, ways that only a fortunate few get to experience.
I tried to come up with my own list of three to imply that I’m a well-traveled, seasoned nature photographer who enjoys a bit of adventure, but I wasn’t so successful. An honest bio of mine reads more like this, “Ellen has almost dropped her camera at the sight of a spider (it was massive), she once screamed when a squirrel jumped out of a dumpster she was walking by, and despite growing up on a lake, she most assuredly did not share the water with snakes, no matter how small or non-venomous.”
It’s hard to argue that having access to a diversity subjects and places, especially if they are rare or seldom photographed, doesn’t help one’s photographic portfolio, but plane tickets and passports are not requisite. You can even be afraid of snakes. You just have to walk out your front door and adjust your perspective. If you don’t believe me, read this post by Alex Wild in which Alex photographs his findings in from a trip to the local park. I haven’t tried a local safari of my own, but all the pictures in this post were captured within walking distance of the various places I have lived in the last six years.
There’s so much to be said for engaging with your own backyard biodiversity. Meet Your Neighbors (MYN) is a collaborative photographic initiative whose mission encourages us to do so. Although MYN’s primary goal is to produce imagery that inspires its viewers to connect with their local flora and fauna, it causes its photographers to do the same. I’m not a photographic contributor to MYN, but it’s a model I have been giving more credence to as I sit here in Connecticut. Connecticut doesn’t exactly offer the level of grandeur that lures people in from other parts of the world, or even neighboring states, but it’s defined by its own beauty. I find it in our spring ephemerals, in our old farm fields, and in the colors of fall. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never pined about all the places I’ve never visited or all the narwhals I’ve never swam with, but right now I am thinking about what it means to live in the Northeast in October, and there’s no place I’d rather be. The next time you’re tempted to buy a plane ticket, reflect on what you’d miss at home, grab your camera, and then get shooting. (It doesn’t hurt to avoid a flight and have a smaller carbon footprint either.)

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