JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald
An international wildlife photographer will explain in a public presentation what his years of travel have taught him about the connection between humans and other living creatures.
Robert Winslow will be the Life-Long Lecture Series speaker next week at Fort Lewis College. The talks always start at 7 p.m. Thursdays in Room 130 in Noble Hall.
Winslow, 67, has photographed harp seals in the North Atlantic Ocean, elephants in Kenya, tortoises in the Galapagos Islands and wolves at game farms in the United States.
He started shooting in 1971 when he walked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, more than 2,000 miles, in one fell swoop of 130 days. He was the 36th person do so. Many hike the trail not from end to end, but by sections.
Digital photography wasn’t even a dream then, Winslow said. He packed an Argus C-3, jotting down the setting of each exposure because the camera had no light meter. He wanted to learn the best exposure for different situations.
At the end of the trek he was contacted by Rodale Press, which was publishing a book about the Appalachian Trail. One of Winslow’s photos appeared on the cover of the second volume, and he had 13 other photos inside.
Winslow, who received a degree in biology from the University of Hartford, taught wilderness studies at Idaho State University. While there, a photo he took of a mountain goat jumping up a cliff was judged the best of more than 10,000 photos in a National Wildlife Cover Photo Contest sponsored by Nikon.
He also has three photos – a snowy owl, a badger and a pair of fox pups – on the tails of Frontier Airlines planes.
As a tour guide, Winslow has led countless expeditions to places around the globe. At the Earthfire Institute near Driggs, Idaho, which shelters orphaned animals, tour participants touch wolves, lynx and mountain lions and look them in the eye.
“It’s a window into another world,” Winslow said. “Embracing a wolf is an encounter that few people experience.”
Winslow said a visit to Earthfire Institute brings tears to the eyes of half the visitors in any party.
“It’s an experience that’s foreign to people,” Winslow said. “Animals can communicate and touch people in a magical way because it’s so out of anyone’s experience.”
He deals with Earthfire Institute because of its ethical practices, Winslow said. There are exotic-animal farms that raise animals for pelts or kill them after one year because baby animals are what sell, he said.
Since he moved to Durango in 1981, Winslow has earned a living as a freelance photographer.
“I received good feedback on my work,” Winslow said. “So I didn’t want not to have tried to freelance.”
Winslow is leading a group to Kenya in August. The tour will include some time on cultural issues, he said.
He breaks with the customary protocol of clients and local guide eating separately.
“We do (invite the guide) because it provides intimate experiences,” he said. “We hear personal stories.”