Photographer urges students follow dreams

Nature photographer Art Wolfe urged students to travel the world during the Brown speaker assembly last Thursday.

“See what’s on this tiny globe,” said Wolfe, “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to.”

Wolfe, who is the focus of “Travels to the Edge,” a PBS documentary series, spends his days traveling to far-reaching places to film his show and take photographs.
By splicing together clips from his show and photographs, Wolfe took the audience on a journey with him through South America, Africa, India and the Arctic.

Photographs were mixed with personal stories as Wolfe told the audience of a bear he had to scare off with his black Walmart umbrella or the elephant seal who was so friendly he climbed onto Wolfe while he was talking pictures on the ground.

Wolfe believes that his background in painting allows him to capture better photographs. It allows him to see nature in a different way than a pure naturalist, he said.

“I’m trying to blend these two mediums – painting and photography – and when I get close, magic happens,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe also told stories of the interesting events he has photographed. During his travels to India, he saw the Maha Kumbh Mela, a festival that happens once every 12 years during which the sadhus, or holy men, travel to the Ganges River in a ceremonial pilgrimage. It is the largest gathering of people on Earth, Wolfe said. From there, Wolfe traveled to the jungle to find Bengal tigers. When in the jungle, Wolfe rode on an elephant in order not to frighten the tiger.

“They are amazing predators,” Wolfe said of the tigers, “and it’s always good to keep one eye on where the tiger is.”

While shooting the photos, Wolfe describes how he and his tour guide lost sight of the tiger, who had climbed the tree behind them. From the foliage of green leaves, a single orange eye looks out surrounded by orange and black stripes.

“And then I pointed up to the tiger,” Wolfe said, “and the tour guide’s eyes got wide, and then we were rushing away quite speedily.”

At the end, Wolfe urged the audience to follow their dreams.

“Follow your dreams,” he said, “and it will all work out, and then you will be a happy camper for the rest of your life.”