There are many jobs in the world that are considered dangerous, but battling the elements and tropical diseases for one photo was never a job that I would have considered. Even if that profesion was not on my bucket list, I was still happy to go to see Steve Winter, a National Geographic photographer.
Steve Winter has been everywhere, the tops of the highest peaks in the world, the deepest jungles and forests, the beaches of Central America and Hollywood. These places are not visited just for fun, however. Winter traveled to all these places with one goal in mind, to get the perfect picture of a big cat.
He came to San Antonio on Oct. 17, 2018 to give a lecture and talk for National Geographic’s three presentations at the Tobin Center. The three lectures were: On the Trail of Big Cats on Oct. 17, 2018, “Exploring Mars” on Feb. 10, 2019, and “Are Rare Look: from North Korea to Cuba on Mar. 31, 21019.
His lecture was on big cats.
First off, I love the Tobin Center; the huge ceilings, decorated walls, refreshments, people and just what I go see. There is not a bad seat in the Tobin. Everyone can see(unless there is someone crazy tall in front).
Second, I never realized what it took to be a National Geographic wildlife photographer. He would camp out for weeks, months even in the harshest of environment for one photo. Just one photo!
He said big cats chose him when a black panther came up to his bedroom door(while it was closed) and he was inside. I cannot recall which jungle he was in, but he was not there to photograph a cat, but a bird. He would wait in a tiny shack and wait for it to come out, sometimes getting no pictures at all. One night, when he returned to his bed upstairs, about to tuck in for the night, he heard the downstairs door creek, the downstairs floorboards creak, then he creaking of the stairs. He froze when he heard sniffing coming from under the door. He had done nothing for a moment, but soon, he banged something against the bedpost and the beast backed away and out of his home. When he asked the natives about it, they told him, “it was just a black panther.” He said he took a step back, surprised. “Why didn’t you tell me?” He had asked. The natives replied, “we didn’t want to worry you.”
Maybe he remembered to lock his front door. That was the day that he said “Big Cats chose me” since earlier he had mentioned that he had not chosen them.
You may not remember this photo, the one with the mountain lion/cougar in front of the Hollywood sign. Steve Winter took months, close to a year just for this one photo!
This photo made the front page of the Los Angeles Times Newspaper.
He set up camera traps in the mountains for the Snow Leopards. He had said that his second night he saw a Snow Leopard up on the mountain peak above his camp and then never saw another Snow Leopard for three months. He had to set up camera traps and waited.
He actually left the area after they ran low of supplies and many months later, when he was at home, he had received an email with photos the camera had took. The email had said, “you will never believe what photo you took, Steve!”I believe that was what he said it said. He had smirked and paused before he continued his story. “That’s great. Can you please send me the pictures?” He had asked.
The famous photo of the Snow Leopard was his. That was the same trail the first Snow Leopard had walked on the second day.
I thought that was crazy! Who has the patience to wait for one photo? Who would fight nature for just one photo?
People had asked him if he was scared of the huge animals he took photos of, since of how close he got. I mean, he was chased by a rino while taking pictures of the tigers. He simply laughed and replied, “I’m afraid of the small ones, the ones you can’t see.” He said. “I’ve had almost every tropical disease you could think of.”
I think being sick at this moment in high school would be the worst thing I could ever do. I hate being sick.
He’s taken pictures of the lion, jaguar and the largest cat in the world;: the tiger. I had discovered that the tiger is on average 250lbs larger than the lion. Maybe that’s why there are always those debates for which big cat would win.
He was inspiring and he wrote a book over tigers, all the photos in the book his own. The book is called “Tigers Forever.”
I will be returning to the Tobin Center for the National Geographic presentation over Mars in February. The presentation I am going to see is; “Exploring Mars,” on Feb. 10, 2019.
Hopefully, it will be as good as Steve Winter’s.
To purchase tickets for the next two lectures, press here.