Photographers know all about bucket-list items. We use our cameras like a passport into the world, driving us to achieve that rare and unique capture of a landscape, animal or night sky.
Even with all I have already witnessed, I still have many on my own, very lengthy bucket list. Photograph polar bears in Svalbard, get down low in the sand with penguins in Antarctica, play in snowy conditions with muskox in Alaska, admire the beauty of giraffes in Africa, document the misty scenes of rutting elk in a rainforest, and capture the spring beauty of the Palouse are just a few at the top of my list that includes hundreds of destinations, subjects and moments. I’ll be busy for a while — whether those images come on my own dime, working on assignment for a publication or tour company, or guiding my clients to far-flung destinations.
This popular park, where I also take clients out to photograph bucket list items like night skies, baby moose and beautiful mountain scenes, may be full of trails to explore but many don’t realize that Estes Park and the surrounding area have some pretty unique aspects as well. There is a World Champion Pizza Maker, the best pies in Colorado (The Food Network said so), a lord’s cottage available for booking, a church blessed by a pope and an ornate hotel that inspired Stephen King.
I recently checked off a new bucket-list item working as a photo guide with Wildside Nature Tours — seeing the confluence that marks the beginning of the Amazon River in Peru. But beyond seeing the mighty Amazon, our group also counted 320 species of birds, saw at least one three-toed sloth a day (including a baby), photographed six different species of monkeys and so much more. That is a pretty good set of achievements for a bucket list.
Helping others achieve their own bucket list items, like seeing a brown bear catching salmon or nailing their first eagle-in-flight shot on one of my workshops, brings joy to what I do as a nature photographer. As a storyteller, using my words and photographs in presentations, articles and books, I share those stories to inspire others to not only become more aware of the changes happening on our planet but to go after their own bucket lists. — Dawn Wilson