By Sam Parks
My photography should be understood in the context of my life experience. Since childhood, the wildlife and wild lands of the American West have always been my deepest passion, my driving force. I was not somebody who was interested in photography and decided that wildlife photography might be fun. Rather, I was somebody who was profoundly fascinated by wildlife and decided to pick up a camera. It is not photography that drew me to wildlife, but wildlife that drew me to photography. This background formed the foundation of my view of wildlife photography and encapsulates the essence of what I try to convey in my images.
Wildlife photography, in my view, is 90% about wildlife and 10% about photography. The most talented technical photographer in the world couldn't make compelling wildlife images without an understanding of basic wildlife biology and the knowledge required to find your subjects in the first place. With this in mind, I am constantly trying to improve my skills as a naturalist and ecologist. I have an insatiable desire to learn and will forever consider myself a student of the natural word. Even after thousands of days in the field, I am constantly learning new things as Mother Nature reveals some intricacy that I missed before. My approach to wildlife photography is to spend inordinate amounts of time in the field; searching, sitting, observing, learning. My greatest fascination is trying to understand the ecosystem as a whole; how the many pieces of this complex web of life interacts and works together.
I firmly believe that an ecosystem is not just a composition of numerous individual lives and species, but a living entity itself; an interconnected and interdependent web of life. Understanding this, I tend to take a holistic approach to wildlife photography. I strive to show in my photography not simply portraits of individual animals but dynamic scenes that tell a story - how the wildlife interacts with each other, with other species, and with the land itself. I want to provide an honest depiction of the wildlife, both their struggles and triumphs, their lives and sometimes their deaths. To tell their real life stories as individuals while never losing sight of the fact that they are part of something bigger.
The fundamental goal of my photography is for the viewer to come away with a greater respect and appreciation for the wildlife, their toughness and what they go through everyday to survive in the wild, and inspire them to care for our wild friends and want to protect them and the land they depend on.