Many years ago, actually much longer that I care to remember, I read an article by one of the nation's top nature photographers. In that article, he made this statement, "Nature photos must never show the hand of man." Like many nature and wildlife photographers, the author believed that true nature photography should not contain anything that would show the presence of man. I think that may well be a mantra of many photographers today, but it is not one that I believe has any meaning for me.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly populated everyday, and the "hand of man" is certainly a part of our everyday lives. I believe that nature photos should show us all of the story, not just the most pristine elements of the natural world. I believe that as we adapt to our surroundings, so do our animal and plant friends. Excluding images that show us mans encroachment upon nature would be like showing us only pictures of farmers and not of people living in major metropolitan cities. People have adapted and so has the animal kingdom. Granted, we still like to see "animals in the wild", but I think we need to see animals living connected to man as well.
With that thought in mind, I love to capture images that use objects created by man to highlight my wildlife subjects. Rather than detract from the image, I often feel they can add interest to a photograph. I think they can dramatically enhance a compositional element, and make a connection between the wild subject and the viewer. In this regard, I think we bring the viewer closer to our subject and make the image relate to a wider audience.
There will, of course, always be those who feel that man has no place in a nature photo, but my personal belief is that man is just one more species living on this planet we call earth. We are just as much wildlife as any other species, and we can learn so much from observing the natural world around us, and all the elements included in that world.
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