Most visitors to the zoo go to view exhibits and learn about exotic animals and their habitats. When I go to the zoo, I’m watching the visitors. Yes, three of them are my ebullient children running ahead to the play structure that awaits somewhere in the middle of the park.
Mostly, though, I’m observing the strangers. At a zoo, there is an interesting mash-up of cultures, generational ages, aesthetics, and human behaviors that never leaves me disappointed. I try to clear my mind of expectations, and become open to the experience of who is at the zoo. I aim to capture them and their details, nonchalantly.
I am acquainted with a fellow photographer in my area who frequents our zoo. He captures lovely images of the parakeets mating; the polar bears pacing in their aquatic enclosure; the zebras eating hay. He posts these images on Flickr, where I follow his colorful but repetitive photostream. I appreciate his persistence and his camera technique. His images remind me of what I need not capture while I am at the zoo: another photo of the same animals inside their exhibits.
In one particular exhibit, I was disappointed with how poorly lit the room was. I could barely read the posted information signs near the glass windows of the rare and unusual creatures. The dim lighting did, however, offer me a venue for making some abstract light paintings. Here is my favorite from a handful of them.