Spring is about newborns and rebirth of life. I can feel the air warming and the rains are starting. Soon we will see fawns emerge with their mothers in the side and back yard. There is a natural spring behind the house. The moisture encourages the grass to grow tall back there. We separate our living space from wild space with a rock wall and enjoy knowing that animals can take shelter in the thicket.
For many years I would grow vegetables in raised beds. The deer would know just when to arrive for the all you can eat buffet. I didn’t mind too much as I see how difficult life is for them. They have to cross a busy road and jump high fences and avoid the coyotes and cars. They do it with such grace that I am inspired by them.
We eventually moved the garden into a fenced pen. We didn’t lose as much food but we also didn’t see as many deer as before. Of course to really see them I have to get up at night. They are crepuscular which means they are most active at dusk and at dawn. You have to get up pretty early to see them.
I had a student once that seemed to always try to submit photos of deer for her assignments. It drove me nuts. It became a running joke. If I assigned a portrait assignment she would come back with an image of a deer in the school parking lot. I just wasn’t seeing what she was seeing. She went on to focus her attention on birds and has become a very fine photographer.
I don’t usually photograph wildlife because I tend to think of those images as identification images. The species of deer have been thoroughly documented. But then it happens. I see the relationship of a fawn and it’s mother and I am moved to take out my camera and make a series of photos. The doe knows she is safe and she trusted me to come close to her fawn. It was such an honor.
I admire wildlife photographers who can capture the essence of an animal that goes beyond identification. It is usually best shown through photographing the relationship of the animal with another. Coca Cola figured out how to use images of polar bears to melt our hearts by showing us the universal emotional qualities of all animals including us. Nothing says it better than the relationship between a newborn and their parent.
I hope I get another opportunity to photograph that relationship in the front yard this year.