David FitzSimmons, author of Curious Critters and photography instructor, dances with the creatures he photographs for a half hour or so to get to know them. “I try in images to convey some kind of personality,” he says.
The dance involves making his partner comfortable and getting into unusual positions himself. “I try to shoot on eye level. We sort of look down on them.” And, yeah, he knows that some people cringe at using the word personality with animals. Well, I cringe at their cringing. He’s not thinking the squirrel feels romantic love for its mate, but the attitude and emotion that becomes clear when you get to know any animal. “A snake could be timid or particularly aggressive,” he says. “The crawfish [in the book] has got his claws up and seems particularly aggressive. The gray tree frog seems spiritual and humble.” Aside from a few technical tips–like putting a snake over a hat to get them comfortable before a shoot–FitzSimmons loves getting students of his photography workshops excited about little and common creatures, knowing their enthusiasm will lead to conservation of their subjects. He’s one of four professional photographers that lens-makers Sigma agency sends out nationwide. He teaches literature at Ashland University. For his most recent book, wrote Curious Critters, which we reviewed here, he photographed animals against a pure white background. His choices were local–from his own backyard to some of Ohio’s animal tourist attractions. His daughter helped, spotting the cover’s teeny