Photographer’s Statement – Larry Selman

Capturing life and documenting it in an artful way. This concept has fascinated me since I was a teenager, shooting pictures with my Speed Graphic camera and developing school class photos in my Cleveland, Ohio basement darkroom.

My first bird photograph (at age 16) was a self-portrait of me with our family Parakeet, Pretty Boy, sitting on the edge of a pencil which I held in my mouth. Over the years, I have photographed everything from the glass art which I sold in my gallery in Santa Cruz, California, to family reunion keepsakes. Years ago, my brother-in-law (an avid birder from Florida) helped to rekindle my interest in birds–ancient creatures who have inhabited the planet much longer than we, and whose migratory capabilities and habits have enabled them, over the centuries, to own the planet.

I enjoy photographing wildlife–especially birds–in their natural surroundings, as they go about their business of everyday living. This Varied Bunting  means, ultimately, that I must study their habits and patiently wait while they execute them. Perhaps photographing Homo Sapiens working at the office, depositing our checks at the auto-teller, buying groceries at the local market, and preparing our entree on the barbeque may not seem exotic to us. But to another species, this day-to-day engagement with the essentials of living, might seem fascinating enough to spend many hours observing and capturing a snippet of our own lives–to be preserved on some kind of medium, and enjoyed as an image of an unfamiliar part of life on this planet. The mystery and intrigue of the natural world is universal to all who inhabit our planet. As humans, we have the privilege of being able to document and interpret a tiny part of this world.

For me, photographing birds is especially challenging, because they remain so little time in one place. They are literally moving subjects. One has to study their surroundings, favorite foods, migratory schedules and quirky habits, in order to have a chance to capture anything on film (or now, on a digital card).

I enjoy all processes of photography, and am constantly endeavoring to expand my knowledge, technique, and subject matter. Whether it be other wildlife, landscapes, or people, I strive to capture the subjects in their familiar, natural environments–at work, at play, or at rest. Mostly, it seems, they are at work.

In his Handbook of the Canadian Rockies, naturalist Ben Gadd has this to say about what we encounter in the wild:

larry-in-colorado2008 Everything is smarter than we think it is.  Animals, pond scum, everything.
Whatever an animal is doing, it’s probably the right thing, Or it would be dead.
Wherever a plant is growing, it’s probably the right place. Or it would be dead.
….The earth’s present ecosystem represents four billion years of learning everything the hard way. Don’t mess with that.

Galleries: Panterra Gallery – Bisbee, AZ; Chiricahua Gallery – Rodeo, NM; Davenport Gallery – Davenport, CA