What It Takes; Moose Peterson’s Works In Progress Page 2

For those of us who find the why of a photograph about as important as the how, the book’s appeal and its strength lies in the stories Moose tells as he traces his development in detailed descriptions of various projects and assignments. He tells us why he made the pictures and what he feels about their importance.

When we talked about the autobiographical style of the book, Moose said, “Wherever you turn, it seems people want instant satisfaction, instant performance, instant results from everything. But there’s another element: time. You have to give yourself, and your photography, time to grow. You are the sum of the time you spend.”

Photography, he maintains, is not a single discipline. “There’s science, math, mechanics, and art. But most people don’t relate to, don’t analyze, don’t even notice the various parts that these disciplines play in a photograph.” And that’s another story he tells in this book: how those elements combine in his photographic efforts.

And there’s one other element: “Exposure isn’t f/stop and shutter speed,” he says. “It’s light and emotion. It’s the way the photographer has taken the light and transmitted, through the camera, the feeling of that light—the emotion of it. You go outside on a bright sunny day and you don’t think in terms of f/stop; you think of how to transmit what you’re feeling.”

The salt marsh harvest mouse is an endangered species endemic to the salt marshes of the San Francisco Bay area.

Lesser sandhill cranes, Platte River, Nebraska.

Moose in pursuit of a favored subject on Alaska’s Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

Greater sandhill cranes.

Ask him what the purpose of his photos is—beyond the documentary work he’s done, the images he’s made for scientists and researchers, for stock or editorial or advertising—and he’ll tell you this: “The purpose is to get you to feel something for the natural world.” And so, he says, the book is also “a call for people to get involved in what is their wild heritage. Over the course of our lifetimes we’ll see a marked difference in what was here when we arrived and what will be left as we get to the end of the journey. We are vastly changing the shape of our environment.”

Those changes were part of his consciousness from the beginning. “I saw what was changing, what was happening, and I knew photography was a vehicle to get people’s attention. I wanted to do more than just to come and go on the planet.

“It would be great to say that I had a mission or a goal or an endgame, but I was just very fortunate that life just kept pushing me in this direction, and it was the right path. The only credit I can claim is that I did recognize that it was the way for me to go.”