Words and Photos by Ben McBee
There’s a photo of me as a chubby toddler in blue pajamas sitting cross-legged on the floor, gazing through a sliding glass door. On the other side, a chipmunk deftly nibbles on a peanut. That little boy was captivated with every subtle movement the small rodent made; how it rotated the shell with its paws and flicked its tri-colored tail erratically. In that scene, a puzzle piece of my identity falls into place, one that is still part of who I am today. I don’t know the exact moment my fascination for animals developed, but I do know it was early in life. That photo all but proves it.
As a photojournalist, I appreciate wildlife from behind the lens of my camera. I’m always looking up in the sky and down low under the leaves — but most importantly, what I try to do is get close with my pictures. Distance and detachment are two of the greatest challenges that threaten our relationship with the natural world as members of its intricate network. My mission is to bridge that gap; to make people not only see the animals that share this planet with us, but also to feel their situation and forge a lasting connection. These portraits of animals in my own back yard and extended home represent this effort.