Monday, February 15, 2010

An Interview with Larry A. Stone: Part 1

How long have you been photographing plants? Why have they kept your photographic attention for so long? What other subjects do you focus on?
As a kid on the farm (Gulp! That’s 50+ years ago!) I played around with an old Brownie camera. But I didn’t start to get serious about photography until college, when a friend loaned me an old SLR. My botany prof at Coe, Robert V. Drexler, got me hooked on plants, so it was only natural to photograph them. That interest expanded dramatically when I became the outdoor writer with the Des Moines Register in 1972. That also was the year I met Sylvan Runkel —and you just couldn’t help but love plants if you ever connected with Sy!

Nature offers endless other photo subjects besides plants: scenics, wildlife, water, weather, geology. But one of my favorites is to try to show the interface between people and nature; as Sy would say, to show how we’re all part of one big natural community.

What has changed in the outdoor world since your first days of photographing these areas? What’s better, what’s worse?
Over the last 40 years, the size and number of our natural areas have continued to diminish—although conservation groups, government agencies, and individuals have taken more interest in protecting remnants. People also have restored or recreated habitats to simulate native environments.

Still, it’s becoming more and more of a challenge to find sites that have not been impacted by nearby development or agriculture. It’s tough to avoid having utility lines or communications towers or agricultural buildings or roads in otherwise scenic photos! And invasive species are encroaching on many sites, threatening the integrity of natural communities.

Larry A. Stone, photographer, Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands

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