Mission Discussion

From the desk of Frank Madia...

In the summer of 2013, I made a photograph of a cinnamon-colored black bear that caught not only my attention but that of many of the people who were following the travel blog I had started shortly after my retirement in 2006. I began to think that maybe my photographs or at least an exceedingly small number of them might be marketable. That black bear photograph won me some exposure due to a photo contest I entered it in, so I decided to throw my hat in the ever-expanding ring of wanna-be profitable photographers.

I then sought the professional expertise of Howard Sander of iWebCrafter, who developed the first release of FrankMadiaPhotography.com. Howard produced exactly what I had asked for and described to him.

Over the next several years I came to understand that marketing my images was probably not the only thing I should be focusing on at this stage of my life. In fact, marketing is likely the least important reason I should have a website.

While my passion for photography has never waned, my focus has matured and evolved over time. As we have traveled through the years, we have noticed that there is more and more of a visual impact on the natural world from the presence of so many visitors. I once had a Yellowstone National Park Ranger explain to me that the further we as a society get from having to live off the land, the less we appreciate the fragility of our natural surroundings.

This notion can be seen in many ways. People feeding wild animals including birds within the boundaries of federally protected lands is one example.

Another unsightly example is the graffiti that can be found in, of all places, the ancient petroglyphs of the peoples who first lived on the land. We have witnessed carelessness in campfire management both in campgrounds and in backcountry campsites; the latter being quite dangerous as there may not be anyone to notice for several hours or days.

Then there is the most obvious, the litter left behind either accidentally or on purpose. Litter can come in many forms. The discarded fishing filament can result in the slow death of birds who become tangled in it. Plastics of varying sizes and shapes can wind up in the stomachs of birds and other wildlife. Paper, cardboard, and cigarette butts are a horrible eyesore as well as being unhealthy to any creature that may ingest such materials. Possibly the most concerning is the disruption to the activities of wildlife, small and large by the actions and behaviors of people.

Visitors to any managed or unmanaged area where wildlife is present should be mindful that they are the uninvited guest of the wildlife.

My modern-day photographic hero and distant mentor is a fellow by the name of Joel Sartore. Mr. Sartore is a world-renowned nature photographer. We have never met, but I attended a presentation he made showcasing some of his recent works several years ago. His work has appeared in publications such as National Geographic. Mr. Sartore is on a mission to photograph as many of the world’s endangered species as he can get to before they are gone. His dedication to the preservation of the world’s animal populations has been an inspiration to me.

While I do not have the talent nor the resources to run a parallel program to that that Mr. Sartore has undertaken, I feel I could have a meaningful impact just the same. It is, therefore, my hope that with a new focus on how I describe my photographs, viewers may realize they too could have a more positive impact on our natural areas while still enjoying them.

If you have already visited the portfolio page you likely noticed there are no people in any of my photographs. That has been by design and not an easy goal to achieve. For example, there are images of the Teton Mountains taken from a place on the Snake River called Oxbow Bend. The mountains are reflected beautifully in the calm waters of the oxbow. I waited nearly an hour to get those photos without including hikers who were walking along the shoreline. As I waited, I had to be concerned about the changing light and how that would affect the resulting photographs.

It has long been my desire to share nature as I like to see it, void of human influences. While I remain dedicated to that goal I sometimes wonder if I should not be doing just the opposite. Maybe I would send a more powerful message with my photography if I were to concentrate my attention on the people rather than the wild scene they may or may not be absorbing. I have rejected the latter as the way to approach my mission.

Therefore, with the valued experience and knowledge of Howard Sander, we have not only improved the look of this website but have made it a space where I can share my photography while at the same time encouraging visitors to the site to be aware of their personal impact on the environment that we all love to visit. At the time of the reset of this site, there were some 300 images on it. I dedicated many hours to adding content to as many of those images as possible to highlight the fragility of the scenes. This is an ongoing effort that will continue post-launch and as new photographs are added.

I do still offer most of my images for sale. I do so because I occasionally receive requests for a print of a favorite image. For that reason, I will continue my affiliation with pixels.com and Fine Art America.

Frank Madia

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