Currently I’m on the road traveling, but have some photos to share from our visit to Romania. While there, I was able to photograph the Bear Dancers whom parade through the streets of villages every year between Christmas and New Years in their bear-skin costumes. It was a privilege to photograph them in this way long before they will officially don the outfits.
This ceremony is a joyfulcelebration belying the fearsome appearance of the traditional costumes and demeanor of the dancers within. It is a tradition intended to scare away evil spirits – including an accompaniment of drums, flutes, and singing – with beginnings that have been difficult to pin-point due to sparse documentation of the region’s history.
To begin with, we assemble the performers! Dressed in a red military uniform, the “Bear Tamer” leads his group of dancers while a wool-clad shepherd stands with the musicians in blue and white garb. A more overcast day may have been ideal, but you must work with the circumstances you are given. By closing in close on the group of dancers themselves, we can put the focus directly on the savage costumes.
Here, a young girl peaks out from below her mask, giving us a great opportunity to capture a similar shot of the group, but with this reveal adding an extra sense of context to the photograph. The contrast of her face among the fierce, snarling bears only adds to the story.
Again, I want to isolate and emphasize the costumes and the dancers themselves without any other outside information informing the story – the subjects here are the elaborate costumes, their muzzles silhouetted against the blue sky, and the shadowed faces of the dancers themselves.
Of course, these ARE dancers after all – so action shots are necessary. Capturing the dancers in their furs against the rich evergreen background of Romanian landscape ties them together nicely. As complimentary colors, the rich reds of their costumes stand out against the forest green.
Here we focus on the procession of bears as they might appear in their journey through the village, usually ending up in a town square for further celebration. Whenever you are given an opportunity like this, take full advantage of it and get all the shots you possibly can – I’ll have more up soon along with the rest of our haul from Romania!
Photography As Artis just around the corner in the Pacific Northwest! On Saturday, November 9th I’ll be in Portland, Oregon – and the following day I’ll be back home to give the presentation in Seattle! Sign up today to ensure your spot!
This seminar is designed to completely change the way you view photography, and my intent is to inspire you to bring unique artistic visions to life using your camera as both brush and canvas. With an emphasis on the abstract, imaginary landscapes, and capturing metaphors the lessons learned here can be applied anywhere and with whatever equipment you have available – no globe-trotting or a plethora of fancy gear required.
2020 is shaping up to be an incredibly busy but fruitful year, and this will be one of the last chances to join me for a day-long seminar before kicking of another year of constant travel. If you’re interested in joining me on a trip, click the banners below to find out more information. Many of these trips are already sold out, but don’t hesitate to join the wait list! Not only will you be notified if a spot opens up, it also gives me a good idea of which locations you’re most interested in visiting – great information to have when I’m looking to add new trips to the calendar!
Also, if you missed out on my Japan tour last year my associate Gavriel Jecan will be leading another tour in February of 2020 – see his page for more details!
I recently returned from my second trip to Eastern Greenland in the last two years and once again it lived up to expectations. From ship to Zodiac, there was a lot to capture in between the wide seascapes and ancient detail in the upheaval of rock formations.
The bedrock of Greenland is some of the oldest on the planet, up to 3.8 billion years old and it shows in the tortuous folds and striations around the ice-free edges of the island. One of the most fascinating spots is called the Skaergaard intrusion, a relatively young formation of igneous rock extruded from the Earth 55 million years ago. Its layers, texture, and line make for a photographer’s dream.
The aesthetics and geological history is all well and good – but the REAL question is, can you find the bacon?!
Wildlife photography can be a frustrating pursuit at times, but you roll with it! In August I had the opportunity to photograph sea wolves in the temperate rainforest of Canada. It rained and rained and rained and the wolves made themselves scarce. Apparently they had moved their den site to another area, but I am pleased with the fleeting images I was able to create.
The surrounding landscape is so varied, from lapping water to rocky shoreline to impenetrable forest that it creates an extraordinarily lush backdrop to these elusive wolves. It was important to me to include the context of the environment, as you don’t find wolves in these kinds of surroundings often. Portraits and ‘hero’ shots of animals can be important to illustrate their personality and demeanor, but may not always inform you of what that creature’s environment and life might be like to the extent of capturing them in the vastness of their natural element.
Think about context and story when you photograph wildlife – and you’ll often come away with a winner!
Every now and again I like to take a break from promoting my own books (Elephants! Human Canvas! – I’m shameless. Oh well – I tried!) to share my recommendations of the works of others with you. Sometimes they are simply educational, while others are inspirational. . . and in this case, both. World culture and tradition has always been as fascinating to me as wildlife. As I have accrued decades of world travel and come to identify the similarities and differences in our cultures, Ive only come to appreciate them that much more.
In Divine Encounters: Sacred Rituals and Ceremonies of Asia by Hans Kemp, we have an excellent photo book that explores the many varied esoteric beliefs of the region both prevalent and obscure.
“The breadth and scope of Hans Kemp’s superb photography captures the expansive yet intimate nature of Asia’s ancient and thriving spiritual traditions.”
I found this book to be inspirational and highly motivating. It’s spawned so many ideas for possible future trips and projects. If you’re planning any trips to Asia in the near future and are looking to fill up your schedule, if you have an interest in world cultures and rituals, or if you simply want to check out some excellent photography, give it a look! Grab your copy on Hans’ website!
Just two spaces remain in my Lake Quinault Photography Retreat coming up very soon! Fall in Washington state is gorgeous, and what better way to celebrate the season than to be part of an intimate group of photographers exploring the lush Olympic forest? This is a location that I can never seem to get enough of as far as photographic opportunities go. I always leave feeling like there is so much more to explore, and this exclusive small group setting is my opportunity to share what I see with you in hopes I can pass on four decades of knowledge to you.
1) Check the Olympic National Park off your bucket list. Do you have a National Parks passport? Maybe it’s time to get one and start visiting the sites of “America’s Best Idea”!
2) Check a workshop with Art Wolfe off your bucket list. A UNESCO world heritage site combined with a world renowned photographer, who also happens to be a great teacher and inspiration? Check!
3) The trees. The temperate rainforest has a living standing biomass which may be the highest anywhere in the world. And it is stunningly gorgeous.
4.) The Luxurious and historic Lake Quinault Lodge is a fantastic home base. We welcome your partners to join us for meals and critiques at the end of our workshop activities.
5) Assistants. I am accompanied by terrific assistants to assure that your photographic experience is as rich as your surroundings. The Quinault retreat is manned by my workshop coordinator Libby whom is also familiar with the area and will be on hand to help assist the participants.
6) Friendship! I don’t know how many friendships have formed as a result of these workshops in particular, but my workshops seem to bring like-minded people together many of whom end up traveling with one and other again and again.
7.) Beautiful images make beautiful prints! Make room on your walls for some new images from a lush and vibrant location.
8) Water. Water defines Olympic National Park. There’s a reason why the trees are massive and the moss lush; why the rivers are highways of life; why the glaciers are there to sculpt the massive peaks.
9) Wildlife. We may get lucky and see the huge Roosevelt elk that make the Olympics home.
10) Adventuresome learning. I work hard to make sure everyone comes away from these multiday workshops feeling better about and more enriched by their photography skills.
Again, only two spaces remain – Sign up now and I’ll see YOU in a few weeks!
I am deeply saddened to hear about the rampant fires currently ravaging the Amazon Rainforest. Relaxed policies on environmental protections and an increased focus on clear-cutting the natural areas has had an immediate and negative impact on a region that already sees numerous fires every year. According to Brazil’s Institute for Space Research, fires in the region number in the high tens of thousands, and an increase of 83% versus this time last year. Smoke pours across Brazil and it’s neighboring states.
Climate change is a hot-button issue these days, and I make an honest attempt to keep politics from being a factor in my work. I get to do what I love for a living, and along the way I also have the pleasure of sharing the world’s beautiful places, animals, and cultures with those whom don’t have the luxury to visit them all. It’s important to me we all share in this experience regardless of our backgrounds and beliefs.
Regardless of our beliefs, or the theories behind the how or why – world-wide climate is changing, and this region of the world is solely responsible for replenishing 20% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and purging a substantial amount of carbon from our air. In times like these I’m hopeful we can put the politics aside and realize the devastating ramifications that occur when we take our environment for granted.
For more information on the topic, and ways to help visit the World Wildlife Fund site on the subject.
I love bears! It is such a privilege to be able to see these intensely intelligent mammals every summer. A bear I photographed as a cub several years ago is now an accomplished mother of three.
This year the salmon were late to arrive, but arrive they did and in great numbers. Every year is a bit different, and though I have commented on the numbers of cubs in the past, it seemed like this year was a bumper crop. Or maybe I was just photographing the same bear over and over and over…I can’t help it if she liked the camera!
As many of you are aware, this glorious region of the planet is under threat. If the Pebble Mine goes through, the bears will lose, the fish will lose, Alaskans will lose, and Earth will lose. It’s short term gain for the few and long-term destruction for the many. Please make your thoughts known to your congresspeople.
Happy #FeelGoodFriday! Today is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Established by the UN, this day was originally to be recognized from 1995 to 2004 during a “Decade of Action and Dignity” for indigenous communities around the globe. Fortunately, it has stuck around longer.
As someone who travels the globe I am blessed to have met so many diverse individuals and witness the traditions and day-to-day life of so many cultures world-wide. Celebrating the diverse people of the world was the inspiration for Mosaic of Man. Throughout my travels I am just as surprised by the similarities of different cultures as I am their differences.
Enjoy the image gallery, and have a fantastic weekend!
After spending two weeks in Alaska photographing beautiful images of brown bears, salmon, and wolves, I am now home in Seattle and looking at my schedule for the upcoming months. The Pacific Northwest figures prominently in these plans and Fall is a lovely time to visit.
Lake Quinault is one of my absolute favorite locations to visit in the fall, and only one space remains to join me there in September! You can hear the sound of the elk bugling, the golden colors of ancient big leaf maples surround you, and you may have a chance to spot eagles, otters, and bobcats feeding on spawning salmon in the local rivers!
I will be teaching two Photography As Art seminars in Portland (early bird special!) and Seattle this November. I constantly update my presentation, so if you have seen this seminar before, there is a good chance it has changed since the time you last attended.
As a wildcard, one space has opened up on the September Greenland expedition that I am leading with Kevin Raber and Steven Gosling. This is sure to be an unforgettable experience for everyone!