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Julie Larsen Maher, Photographer
for the Wildlife Conservation Society

Official Title: WCS Staff Photographer

"Work on the wild side! Inspiring care for wildlife and wild lands can happen through many different career choices. Investigate all of them."

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild lands. The need to communicate our message underlies everything we do. Photographs that represent our conservation in the field and animal welfare in the living institutions enlighten, educate and inspire, and are the visual voice of the WCS.

Julie began her career with WCS as Creative Director of Publications in 1991 and changed jobs in 2005 to Staff Photographer. Julie is just the sixth person (and first female) in the history of the organization to be named Staff Photographer. Quite amazing since WCS has been around since 1895! She uses digital photography to bring to life WCS programs from around the world.

Being staff photographer for WCS allows her the "perfect blend of art and science," as she chronicles the wildlife and the people at its five New York-based wildlife parks by taking pictures. Her digital photographs and the stories that go with them represent remarkable, behind-the-scenes access to 20,000 animal residents and their caregivers.

Every day, Julie works with some of the world's leading conservationists and animal experts to plan and take the photos for WCS. Julie has gone to the wilds of WCS global programs including Zambia, Madagascar, Argentina, Yellowstone in western United State, and the Adirondacks in upstate New York. Each location has conservation issues that are top priority, and Julie takes photos and writes about these places to help educate the world about the need to protect them.

WCS field conservationists work with Julie to capture and communicate pictures from their programs at international locations. By taking images that reflect the natural diversity of faraway lands, she has loved and learned about these beautiful and remote places, and why conserving them is of global importance.

Julie has documented WCS field activities in Madagascar as the researchers work to save the last remaining forests there—over 80% are gone due to deforestation.

The people in remote parts of Zambia do not have food security and poaching of their local wildlife including elephants and antelope has been a serious problem. The black rhino is now extinct there in South Luangwa Park. Julie photographed efforts by WCS Zambia staff to train people in livelihoods like farming and carpentry to replace their old career with more productive ones for the people and the wildlife.

In Argentina, the Patagonia coast is home to southern right whales, penguins, and elephant seals. Land development and oil exploration affect their habitats. Julie photographed the wildlife close up to share their beauty and their plight with others.

Having grown up on a farm in Iowa, Julie learned very early about the animals her family raised. She explored creeks and woods and studied the flora and fauna she found along the way. She participated in various programs and volunteer opportunities that included animal care and art. Julie took a variety of interesting classes in both high school and college, including English, art, writing, journalism, and biology and other sciences. In college, she finally settled on graphic design as a career choice. Since Julie considers her digital camera, variety of lenses, and computer the most important creative and communicative tools that she uses. She highly recommends courses on photography and information technology to those interested in this career.

Her images from the zoos and the field appear throughout WCS media including www.wcs.org, www.bronxzoo.com, and other national and international publications and websites. As you surf the Teens for Planet Earth and Wildlife Conservation Society web pages, look for Julie's photos!

The next time you visit one of the WCS zoos, Julie suggests some valuable tips for photographers.

  • You'll often find that you have to shoot through glass. So, it's really important to stand at an angle. That will reduce flash back.

  • Look for good ambient light, and try shots without using a flash.

  • Bring a tripod.

  • Get eye to eye with the animal.

  • Avoid shooting down on an animal.

  • Take more than one picture of a subject.

  • Vary the angle of your shots.

  • Look for details within the animal—skin patterns, shapes, textures—for interesting close-ups. This will enhance any photo essay. It's also something many scientists use to identify various species.

Teens for Planet Earth. This site is designed to help teens protect this amazing planet we call home.  Surf these pages for incredible facts about the natural world, for the latest environmental news, and to discover how 14- to 17-year-olds can and do make a difference.

Visit the all new Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) 's Teens 4 Planet Earth Social Networking Site and learn more about wildlife-friendly careers.

 

 

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