Photos by Scott Bourne
NOTE: This article has been cross-posted at JPG Magazine. Please consider voting for it if you like it. Thanks.
I’ve been photographing wolves on and off for the last five years. Photographing them has helped me deepen my understanding of wolves. I’ve come to understand that we can’t impose human rules on wolves, but as humans, we can learn valuable lessons from them about loyalty and love.
Wolves are both beautiful and ferocious. Wolf packs have highly organized and complex social systems. There is an alpha and omega hierarchy, and the pack operates as a family. Each member has a role and all band together to help raise the pups. If one member of the pack is injured or sick, the others step in to support and feed it.
In creating these images I learned that the wolf’s world is simply not fair. The wolf’s destiny is kill or be killed. They have a brutal class system that doesn’t make exceptions. They fight to protect their territory. Yet, I’ve also seen a barren female wolf take on the task of raising an orphan pup with the same tenderness any mother would show to a baby. I’ve watched wolf pups play and have so much fun they wore themselves out and had to stop to take a nap, mid-stride.
Wolves can weigh as much as 175 pounds and grow to more than six feet in length. They have large feet and 42 razor-sharp teeth. Most wolves weigh less than a pound at birth and are nearly fully-grown at the age of six months. They usually only live to be six or seven years old in the wild. Wolves are generally one of five colors: white, black, brown, gray or tan. Most wolves travel in packs of six or seven animals and can run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour.
So what do all those facts mean? Will these facts cause people to hate or embrace wolves? The facts actually do little to help us fully understand wolves. It’s only through observation and documentation that we can really know them. That’s why photography is so important. Watching a wolf play with a tree limb or nurse its young and then photographing that activity, creates a visual connection to the wolf.
Wolves are inspiring and I’ve decided these traits are worth sharing through photography. I also decided to photograph wolves because most people know little about them. And the less we know about something, the more likely we are to be afraid of it.