Photography, probably more than anything else, requires the artist to wait on their subjects for days, months, or even years at an end so that they can capture ‘that’ particular moment which they are looking for. Sometimes, it is not just about a moment, but rather an entire process. Maybe a lifetime which the photographer wants to pictorially immortalize! Undoubtedly, this requires an immense devotion which not every person can possess. A person who puts in so much devotion, loyalty and dedication behind a single piece of work is indeed a rare gem.
Geert Weggen, a Swedish photographer from Bispgarden, is one such gem of a person. For six years now, he has been closely following the love of his life, red squirrels, taking fascinating, candid, and staged photographs of these animals.
This episode of Weggen’s life started on the day a fox decided to pay him a friendly visit. Normally, any person would be alarmed at this and would try their best to drive the ‘wild’ animal away. That person is not Weggen though! Meeting the fox at his doorstep, he rushed back to his kitchen to get some meat. Maybe it was Weggen’s good nature or maybe some other reason, the fox waited for him to return and accepted the food offered. Starting that day, the fox would come back daily and by the end of the second week it would come up to the balcony. On the balcony were some of Weggen’s photography props, which soon became play-things for the visitor. Taking opportunity of this intimate interaction, Weggen photographed the fox.
It wouldn’t be very surprising if Weggen has communicative skills like those of the famous veterinarian, Dr. Dolittle, from the movie by the same name. Anyhow, there is no doubt that animals have a special love for this man, for very soon, a Russian bird started paying daily visits to Weggen’s balcony. If not anything else, animals can surely feel the love that Weggen has for them and they know fully well that, for them, this is the least harmful man in the whole wide world. Birds like this one, travel long distances and who knows how many stories they collect on their way. Being wanderers and travelers who look at the world from above, they are obviously very wise. If only we could ever communicate in their language, we would surely have a lot to learn from them.
Anyhow, just like the fox and the bird, let us return to Weggen’s story. His is a real story, of a real person, interacting with real animals and is far from being fictional like Dr. Dolittle’s. As the animals kept coming, Weggen eventually turned his balcony into his natural studio, where he put cameras, mirrors, nature props and many other similar things. He even began orchestrating the scenes of his photographs. Now, bear in mind that we are talking about untrained animals here and you will automatically know how difficult these orchestrations must have been. But then, difficulty is the pre-requisite of great work after all and Weggen indeed made it look very simple.
Weggen would hide food inside the props and would follow the bird with his camera as it searched for it. In no time, the number of visitors to Weggen’s studio increased. The new ones were the red squirrels. Never did Weggen have the slightest idea then that he was going to fall in love with these squirrels and would eventually go on to make a living with what he so devotedly loved.
Coming in from the surrounding forest, the squirrels were initially afraid of Weggen until they realized that he was giving them all the food. Being curious and sociable as they are, the squirrels started interacting a lot more once they became friendly. From his kitchen window which looks out onto the balcony, Weggen snaps these squirrels every day as they play with his props – ranging from balloons to shopping carts to even tiny bows and arrows. The results are absolutely fascinating and delightful. It gives the viewers much insight on the personalities of both the animals and the artist.
Weggen organizes squirrel workshops, which are probably one of their kind, in order to teach his techniques to people. He also sells his images in book-form and in these ways he earns his living and continues to spend his days happily with his love for photography.
You can follow him on Instagram Here.
Image Credits: Bored Panda