Wild Shots Review by TIM JONES
A Photographer's Life in Alaska
By Tom Walker
Anyone who's ever seen a photo of a wild animal and thought, "oh, that’s cute," or "that's a little scary" or maybe just "lucky shot" and then turned the page or scrolled past it, ought to take the time to read Tom Walker's book Wild Shots.
In it Tom takes us through his life from the days as a teen in what amounts to wilderness in Southern California to the wilds of Alaska, spending days and weeks searching for that one shot, that defining moment in an animal's life that leads to understanding. From reading his descriptions of his camps, his long treks through all measure of terrain and all kinds of weather, you come to understand you have to be in the right place at the right time in order to have the luck that offers the opportunity to make the photo.
From battling hordes of mosquitos to weathering temperatures well below zero, Tom persisted in his pursuit of that perfect photo often finding disappointment when the animal turned the wrong way at the last moment or another came along and chased it away, or worse, caught it and ate it.
In the book Tom shares his incredible body of knowledge about wildlife habits, habitat, seasonal movement, reproduction and all kinds of behavior. In the process he presents credible arguments on the necessity for preserving wild animals and their wild habitat.
But the heart of the book is in learning how this one man, learns as much as he can about the animals he photographs, studies them, studies their history, their lives, there positions in the food chain, whether they be killer whales at the top of the the ocean chain or brown bears at the top on land, or the voles and lemmings near the bottom among land animals. With that knowledge he goes wherever they live whether it be high in the Brooks Range in far northern Alaska, a windswept island in the Bering Sea, a salmon-choked stream in southern Alaska or the ocean passages of Southeastern. He knows the seasons, when caribou migrate in vast herds, and with most of the animals he photographs he knows when the young are born, what their foods are and what prey they seek or what preys on them. Despite all that, sometimes it all leads to disappointment and he shares that with the reader as well. Not every expedition yields the photograph he sought. Still much of that knowledge, preparation and physical effort , patience and perseverance often lead to the moment that offers the "cute," "scary," or "lucky" shot often skipped past in a magazine or on a web site. Tom's photos deserve more respect than that. Given his approach to his work it's no wonder he is one of the top photographers in Alaska.
Toward the ending he reveals his favorite animal to photograph and given the variety he describes in the book, the revelation is surprising, but his reasoning for it is perfectly understandable. And the explanation reveals a personal philosophy of appreciation for animals that's evolved over his 50 years of photographing Alaska and its wild critters. BY Author TIM JONES, The Last Great Race.