As I watched him from a distance—his tall, brittle body bending to feed squirrels by the oceanside—it struck me how much joy and purpose he found interacting with these little animals.
I spoke with him afterward and he told me how he was basically alone in life.
I have seen scenes like this play out many times around the world during my career—people spending what little they had to feed squirrels or pigeons.
I learned early in life when we lose those we love, we often find comfort in connecting with other life forms, such as birds, animals or even plants. After all, we are designed to give and to share.
Photographing candid, even intimate, moments requires slow movements and patience. For me, I try to go unnoticed, watching silently with a telephoto lens when possible. This allows me to concentrate on real, unrehearsed emotion.
Though I am close to 6 feet 4 inches, I am pretty good at blending and being invisible. But if you feel uncomfortable—as if you are stalking your subject—moving closer and patiently waiting for moments you feel are storytelling might be better.
Reader Photo Challenge
Capture a candid photograph of someone interacting with a bird or animal. Rather than composing a posed portrait of your dog or cat, watch for the relationship between person and animal. See if you can capture the joy each provides to the other.
Please email your best image along with caption information to GPH@pur.coop. We may share some of the submissions on our website and social media channels.