When I was six and stuck at home with the chickenpox, my father gave me my first camera. It was a little Ansco box film camera. Eventually I graduated to a FujiPet (a slightly bigger and more complicated film camera), followed by several Nikon SLRs and later Nikon DSLRs. For a while, we had a darkroom set up in the garage. My mother would join us periodically to encourage our collaboration. Because my dad was the long time West Coast distributor of Nikon, it is emotionally - and likely genetically - impossible for me to use any other brand of camera.
Dad was a fine photographer and artist in his own right. He taught me about composition and techniques like depth of field, but mostly he shared with me the joys of photography. "Tell a story with your photos," he constantly reminded me and it is advice that has stayed with me. My images strive to capture the sense of place, the emotion and soul of the people and the magic of the animals I photograph. I am intrigued with colors and light and how they play on my subject. My goal is to convey to the viewer the emotion felt at the moment the shutter is clicked - the story behind the image.
Photography allows me to see more closely the beauty around me and to escape the outside world. It allows me to dive deeply into what I am seeing and feeling and to try to capture the sense of the moment. It offers magic and exhilaration at the same time it offers peace and tranquility. Sometimes my concentration is so intense that I need to step back and look at the scene around me with both eyes and not through the camera lens. Even the post-processing ritual with my computer offers a look beneath the surface, as the features of birds become so clear and unexpectedly complex that I am in awe of nature's work. It is a glimpse into a world not accessible without the camera.
Friends have sometimes asked me why I am smiling when I take photos and often I have to apologize for giggling. "It's because I am so happy," I reply.
Photographing international wildlife and people is my passion, thanks to my good fortune of being able to travel. In 1979, I first went to Africa (Kenya) with a University of California, Davis Extension trip. I took along 30 rolls of 36 exposure slide film, two Nikon camera bodies (one borrowed from my father) and several lenses. In 2014 I returned to Africa again, but this time with a Nikon DSLR and numerous memory cards.
Closer to home, driving the auto route at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, and other nearby regional wildlife refuges, offer wonderful photographic opportunities and a sense of peace, escape and joy. I am able to explore my regional community and capture images that convey the sense of place and spirit of the communities thanks to my volunteer photography activities for several nonprofits, a statewide magazine and a local energy agency,
A bit more about me. I was born and raised in San Francisco, California and attended the University of California, Davis, earning a BA in Art and an MA in Anthropology. I worked for 30 years for a statewide local government association as a lobbyist emphasizing environmental issues and later as the director of the climate change program for the association's educational and research institute. I am now blissfully retired in Davis, CA.
Besides the photo galleries, the website includes information about professional recognition, photo shoot assignments and how to contact me. While I am enjoying retirement, I am open to discussing photo assignments. If you have a possible project, please contact me and we can discuss options. And, if you wish to purchase one of the gallery photos, please let me know using the contact page. Otherwise, please enjoy the photos on the website.
- Yvonne Hunter, Davis, CA