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Part III: The Environment/Eco Tourism
JM: Do you consider yourself an environmental activist?
DG: No. I am going to let you ask me a couple of more questions before I let you know where I come from.
JM: Actually, that answer knocks out the other questions. So go ahead. :)
DG: [Chuckles] I'll tell you what...without the environment and where we are, too soon it doesn't matter whether I go to Africa or anywhere else. We are going to lose what is so important. I have grandchildren and I want them and many generations beyond to be able to see these things. So what I do, instead of being an environmental activist, is work on helping build a discussion about enviornmental conservation. This is something that being President of NANPA has allowed me to do. In Denver, we are going to have our first environmental summit. In February, we are going to have our environmental committee, do a Friday evening program on environmental issues. I helped push through the environmental committee, working with Tom Carlyle, who is the head.
JM: You don't consider yourself an environmental activist...so how then do you see your role as a nature photographer?
DG: I am a champion of it.
JM: What is the difference?
DG: The difference is that I might not be up there forefront with it but I have certain ways hopefully of influencing this - be it through NANPA as the President - or other ways of helping to get things going.
JM: NANPA as a group only recently, it seems, started to tackle environmental issues.
DG: That is because of me. In my own way, I am pushing very much for the environmental issue. I am working with others and I want it to be very much part of NANPA in the future.
JM: What are the most significant environmental issues?
DG: Global warming and the destruction of so much of our old growth forest. Old growth forest especially for me is an importnat issue. Old growth forest happens to be next to the woods where I live.
JM: Do you feel there are any groups in particular that are being helpful or being successful in either of those issues?
DG: The Nature Conservancy. I like what they do. I think some of the others go too strong, Green Peace can be that way. Sierra Club can be good but I don't follow that one close enough. I would like to see more groups within NANPA and others really develop more.
JM: How do you think that can happen? Do you have in your mind a plan for that?
DG: It is an evolving thing and we are taking baby steps with it. A couple of things that I hope will be part of my legacy as being President of NANPA is that we get this going and the visual content. We are bringing out a journal and other things.
JM: Are there anything that you feel we as individuals, other than cutting down on the SUVS and other large fuel consuming vehicles, can be helpful to these groups?
DG: What is interesting is that I have an SUV. I live out in the West and when I travel that is what I sleep in.
JM: My wife and I are talking about purchasing the Escape Hybrid.
DG: A hybrid is great, especially, in certain locations. They make nothing but great sense. But more important than anything else, I think, is continued awareness. In Alaska they are going to have a new forum that are coming up (Christina Mittermeier and others are really involved with it). From my NANPA stand point, that is the direction to continue to get involved with.
JM: I want to ask you about ethics of Wildlife and Nature Photography
DG: We have our ethical code and how to act. Education is part of it and each one of us is the key to it. But we have to realize that it is pretty hard for my ethics to be pushed on everybody else. You can't do it except through education and by example.
JM: Since you are a globe trotter, what places do you find that you keep going back to?
DG: Number one, South Georgia Island in Antarctica...it is where all the King Penguins are. I have never done the Emperors which I would love to do and I am working on that with Joe Van Os tours. Maybe one of these days I will get enough seniority to do that. On a grand landscape, it is the largest concentration of Pacific Wildlife, ie the King Penguins and five other penguins on Worth Island with some of the most fantastic landscape opportunities. Africa is the same thing. I can do birds, I can do macro, I can do landscape and I have the wildlife. You just can not ask for anything more.
JM: Are you working with Van Os? I did not know that. I know that you are working with George Lepp.
DG: I do tours with George Lepp, Pop Photo, my own, Palm Beach, and Joe Van Os. I will do seven with him next year. Wayne Lynch and John Shaw are considered his A-Team. Almost any one of them in Africa, with the wildlife in Kenya and Nambia, are fantastic.
JM: That sounds wonderful. Is there anything you would like to talk about?
DG: I think the bottom line is that if somebody is new and upcoming in this field for somebody to say hey just like Artie and I were hearing many years ago, there are already all theses top people and there is no more room, that is just not true. It is pure drive, but more than anything you need more energy and more creative drive in you than your competitors. If you do it, you are going to be successful.
I'll tell you, I am almost 55 and I did this cowboy horse drive, there are people who are 20, 30 years younger than me and I can still burn their butts. I can out go them and I can keep doing it that is because I love doing what I am doing.
James, has you found it fun doing these interviews?
JM: I love them. It has been an eye opener for me. It is something that makes our website a little different from the others out there. It is not gear oriented and it tries to figure out what makes people really successful.
DG: Well, thank you. Years ago, John Shaw and I did a program in Minneapolis together. I consider John Shaw to be one of the more creative, really a great photographer. Here we sat down with a fire side chat with about 150 people and all I can hear asked was what film, what camera, what lens, and what ISO. I finally interjected and said “Wait a minute, you have one of the most visionary individuals here, why don't you ask him what he thinks when he goes out into the field?” So I am always trying to get people to think that way.
Here is my final statement and this is very true. Where I am, on that day with my camera, it is the best place in the world. That might sound hokey but I did some years over 50 thousand in gross sales just out of my backyard because of what I do creatively and what I do working with my yard. For example, in Nature's Best Spring issue we just did something on butterflies and they did a ten page spread on me...all taken in my yard.
JM: Thank you again for your time.
DG: It has been my pleasure.
If you are interested in learning more about Darrell Gulin and his tours, you can visit: http://www.photosafaris.com/.
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