Telluride Mountainfilm: Steve Winter, Photographer

[click "Play" button to hear Steve Winter talking with Susan, and click the YouTube box below to see a slideshow of Winter's photgraphy ]

Tell imovie49 Two years ago, a group of "fellows" from the International League of Conservation Photographers came to Telluride, including James Balog Wade Davis, and Chris Rainier, all three long-time Mountainfilm supporters and popular featured guests. Joining them this year is another member of the ILCP, Steve Winter, since 1995, also a major contributor to National Geographic, and Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008, for his haunting images of the elusive snow leopard.

Photography is a democratic medium: most people don’t paint or draw, but almost everyone owns a camera. It would be delusional, however, to describe snapshots of family get-togethers and beach outings, even the images shot by eco-tourists on their adventures in the Alaskan wilderness or African savannah, as art. In no way can drugstore prints be compared to the work of Ansel Adams, Eugene Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, Annie Leibovitz, Balog, Rainier, or Nan Goldin, all acknowledged masters. That would be like comparing Elvis to Mozart.

“Cameras don’t take great pictures. Artists take great pictures,” explained Goldin years ago in a New York Times interview.

The ILCP goes a step or two further, insisting “great” be combined with the purpose of moving people to action. Traditional nature photography, however captivating, is often achieved in the absence of purpose. Steve's purpose is clear: in addition to his association with the photo-activists of ILCP, he is president of Panthera, a non-profit dedicated to saving all 36 species of wild cats and the wild places that are their ecosystems. Wild cats such as the snow leopards, which he photographed over the course of six weeks, camping in the Himalayas at 30 degrees below zero.

Steve's leopard images are on display at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art over the long Memorial Day weekend for the 31st annual Telluride Mountainfilm. He is also giving a talk about his adventure capturing the leopards on film.

To learn more about Steve's journey from a young boy growing up in Fort Wayne, Indiana to award-winning photographer and why he thinks his is the best job in the world, press the "play" button and listen to his podcast.

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