Meet the Photographers: Laura Romin and Larry Dalton
Baby Animals, First Place, Amateur
Laura Romin and her husband Larry Dalton are wildlife biologists. Romin works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Dalton works for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. As extensions of their wildlife careers, they also have a passion for travel with an emphasis on wildlife viewing and wildlife photography.
"To us, there is nothing better than being in the field for extended hours and days, having the opportunity to spend the time with individual animals," says the couple. "Without fail, we have found that the extended time spent with individual animals is so very rewarding—we are able to gain a deep understanding of each animal's behavior and be in the right place at the right time for some amazing interactions."
NWF: Why did you enter NWF's Photo Contest?
Lion cubs, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Laura Romin and Larry Dalton: We have entered NWF's photo contest for about the last 15 years, and have been a member of NWF for even longer.
National Wildlife magazine is one of the better conservation-oriented publications on the market and the wildlife photography is always outstanding. We have wanted the opportunity to contribute our work to your magazine and other conservation efforts because, as your later question asks, we absolutely believe that photography promotes wildlife conservation.
NWF: Can you describe briefly the circumstances behind the making of your contest-winning photograph?
Lion cub and mother, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
R&D: We spend a great deal of time viewing individual animals and family groups. Our contest-winning photograph is no exception. In February 2011, we spent two weeks at a lodge in a wildlife conservation area in Tanzania. We were traveling with a safari company that offered a private guide. We always need a private guide so that we can spend a lot of time on one animal; guided tour groups do not provide that kind of opportunity. During our stay, we found a lioness that had three small cubs. Every morning at daybreak, we were the first vehicle to leave the lodge. Our goal each morning was to find this family group of lions to see what they were up to. Often we had the group to ourselves, and we spent many hours watching and photographing them playing, grooming, nursing and, of course, sleeping.
Because we spent so much time with this family, we were able to begin to anticipate the behavior and movements of the lioness and her cubs. For example, in this image, the lioness and cub were initially standing about 30 yards apart. The cub started to approach her mother. Whenever lions and cubs meet, there is some sort of greeting or rubbing involved. When this cub approached, we set up on the mother and hoped for a heartwarming greeting. And, oh how the little cub obliged. She walked right under her mother's legs and move toward her front. We were ready and waiting when she poked her face between her mother's legs. And then it got even better when she sat down and wrapped her paw around one of her mom's legs. These are the kind of moments we wait and wait and wait for—and then, we never forget them.
Lioness and cub, Ngorongoro
Conservation Area, Tanzania
NWF: Do you think that photography can promote wildlife conservation? If so, how?
R&D: Photography absolutely promotes wildlife conservation. Still photographs in particular are able to capture moments in the lives of animals. These moments can be heartwarming, sad, startling, fearsome or gruesome. But, the moments portray an animal's behavior and life, and they illicit responses in people. In return people, especially those who don't frequent wild areas often, are able to understand and appreciate nature and wildlife a little better—this awareness is critically important if we are to continue to conserve wild places and wild animals.
Photography is a powerful medium that can today be presented in the press, magazines, and innumerable websites, in ways that can reach the vast majority of people worldwide.
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