My husband and I just took a nonfiction trip to Costa Rica. We were doing a photo shoot in places where everything was real—no virtual high tech made up stuff or computer games for us! The toucans and macaws and magnificent quetzals and anhingas and hummingbirds were all real. The strawberry poison dart frogs and red-eyed tree frogs were real and the bright yellow poisonous eyelash vipers were real and the caimans’ sharp pointy teeth were very real and the white-faced Capuchin monkey that stole all the sugar packets at a lodge where we stayed and ate them one at a time was real and the slovenly sloths and the huge rhinoceros beetles and the blue morpho butterflies were real and the hot steamy jungle was real too. Even the spider bite on my leg was real. I know this for a fact. It’s still there.
Guess what. In case nobody has been outside for a long time, there’s a whole nonfiction world out there waiting to be explored in real time. You can see everything in 3-D and living color and surround sound. You can smell its wonderful and terrible perfumes. It is so incredibly real that we had to read a lot of paperback fiction to bring us down from our nonfiction high.
Most of the time we were able to photograph the wildlife from mere inches away, but sometimes we had to stalk it patiently for hours at a time like hunters on the prowl. We do photo shoots like this all the time, but they never cease to amaze me. When we go to other countries, I like to follow in the footsteps of some of the people I write books about by writing my own journals (think Lewis and Clark or Charles Darwin or even the gold seekers who flocked to California during the 1840’s). Of course I get to use all of these photos and journals as research to enhance and enliven my books. But I love photography for its own sake too. I love it big time.
So go outside, people. Take a gander at nature while it’s still there to see and touch and smell and taste. Trust me—all that biodiversity is fading fast, so let's get a move on before it’s too late.