Trip leads to picture perfect opportunities
Okotoks: Kerry Statham is a rising wildlife photographer
Wednesday, Dec 15, 2010 03:49 pm
While not exactly nose-to-nose, Okotoks photographer Kerry Statham had to get very close while snapping shots of some grizzly bears in Alaska this past August. He found it a thrilling but not frightening experience.
“I can’t say I was ever really afraid,” Statham said. “You learn pretty quickly that the bears were just there to do their thing and they tolerated you but they never looked at you as a threat or a menace. So I don’t think they ever felt like they had to be offensive or aggressive.”
Being that the costal brown grizzly bears in question were residing in and protected by Katmi National Park they have never been fed or hunted by people so they haven’t learned to see man as a food source or a threat. That coupled with the fact that Statham and the other photographers he was with were always in the company of an experienced guide who knew each animal well took a lot of the fear out of the experience.
Still the photographer divulged a healthy respect for the manner of beast he was capturing was always there.
“You always gave the bears their space,” Statham explained. “The bears out there in many instances are comfortable with people or just look at people as another fixture on the landscape so much so they would approach you. Quite often they’d get within two or three metres.”
Statham revealed that even though he has been taking photos for a great portion of his life it has only been in recent times that he’s begun to see it as something he can make some money doing. It’s all been fuelled by that trip to Alaska.
“It’s just something that came up and an opportunity that I couldn’t miss,” he explained. “There was some demand for my work when I got back. So that’s kind of what spurred my web site. ”
Statham’s site is riversrunphotography.com and it features many of his most impressive photos. On it you’ll see that while in Alaska he not only took many shots of bears but some pictures of a white wolf as well.
“We had two evenings where the wolves were out in the flats fishing out amongst the bears.” Statham recalled. “That one wolf in particular, that I got pictures of, was just a yearling pup. The first time we saw him he was quite a ways off. But a couple of nights later he was back and he was nice enough to literally come up and pose for us. He spent probably five or 10 minutes around us then meandered off to do so more fishing.”
Leah Mitchell of the Altitude Art Gallery in Okotoks recently brought into the shop some of Statham’s pictures including one shot of that white wolf standing in shallow water staring at the photographer.
Mitchell has liked what she has seen in Statham’s photos.
“I got involved with him very recently,” she said. “ He didn’t have a whole lot of confidence. He considers himself an amateur photographer. But the way he takes photographs and especially when he’s taking photographs of animals, it’s not just about the animal it’s the whole piece united.”
Mitchell refers to Statham’s ability to capture the key elements of the natural settings his subjects are found in along with the animals themselves to create a complete and lasting image. For example, one of his photos in the Altitude Gallery features two bears in one corner of the image and an amazing array of untamed countryside throughout the rest of it.
During the photographer’s summer excursion to Alaska he was able to take his father along. Statham maintained that both men were left mesmerized by the beauty and spectacle of what they saw in both the wildlife and the Alaskan landscapes they visited.
“We both said it’s not a matter of if we go back but more a matter of when,” he said. “It’s just one of those truly unique places and experiences that I don’t think you can duplicate in many other places in the world.”