Through a photography workshop at Khao Kheow open zoo of Thailand the ‘National Geographic’ wildlife photo-journalist Joe Riis inspires the new generation.
Born to a wildlife biologist and raised on a farm on the prairies of South Dakota, wildlife photography was a natural career option for Mr. Riis. Yet it wasn’t until graduation that he actually realized this dream. Post his college graduation as wildlife biologist in University of Wyoming, Riis started working as a full-time photographer for National Geographic at the age of 23.
Reserved by nature and young at the age of 28 years old Riis chooses passion over money. He says “While beautiful photographs of animals draw people in, it’s important that they also reflect the challenges facing the natural world. More and more, all over the world, as humans require more resources it results in less and less wildlife. Photography is a common language all over the world, something people can connect to. Sometimes they see one photograph and it changes their minds on a particular issue.”
He believes in clicking pictures that change perceptions and not just merely beautify the walls as he explains,” “If there’s any conflict between humans and wildlife that photography can help people to be aware of, that’s what I think is really important, Wildlife photography from a journalistic perspective; not very many people are doing that.”
The Khao Kheow Open Zoo was the chosen locations by the photographer for a workshop he held in March, where Riis’ easy confidence encouraged the students to cross the boundaries of inhibition.
In a world where fashion and celebrity photographers outnumber wildlife photographers, Riis promotes the beauty of nature while raising consciousness about wildlife protection.
“What are you focusing on?” he asks a teenager taking a picture of a deer at Chon Buri’s Khao Kheow Open Zoo. “Usually if I use the big cameras, I’ll go down low on the ground like this. Try it; Lay down on your stomach. Just try something different.” He tells the student.