Isaac Spotts is a photographer born in Florida but currently living and working in Jackson, Wyoming. Our longstanding admiration and concern for the wolves and wildlife found in the great national parks of the American West somehow led us to the 18-year-olds' amazing Instagram, filled with awe inspiring shots of gray wolves, gray owls, giant buffalo, and an array of other wildlife surviving in the Grand Tetons, an area just 60 miles south of Yellowstone National Park. In our effort to raise awareness and support for the plight of gray wolves in this area, we've featured the photography of Mr. Spotts in our latest Los Angeles Union (available at fine retailers across the country), and caught up with the teen to discuss what drives his passion for wildlife photography.
JMM: What first inspired you to pick up a camera?
Isaac Spotts: Nature inspired me! I've always loved walking around finding whatever critters I could find, and when I realized I could capture moments from those animals' lives, I instantly fell in love with it!
JMM: Which was the first nonhuman animal you ever photographed? Where and under what circumstances?
Isaac Spotts: The first animal I photographed was a lizard in my backyard in Florida. We had green ones and I used to love taking photos of them!
JMM: How many national parks would you say you have you visited? Which was you favorite to photograph and why?
Isaac Spotts: I've visited around nine national parks and Grand Tetons is definitely my favorite!! The landscapes are absolutely breathtaking and there's so much amazing wildlife up there, it's crazy. I could go there every day for the rest of my life and not get sick of it!
JMM: What would you say is the key to capturing a good animal photograph?
Isaac Spotts: The key to capturing a good wildlife photo is the time spent out in the field. The more time you spend out there, the more likely you are to see something amazing and the more likely you are to capture an amazing photograph!
JMM: Describe your scariest encounter with an animal while shooting (pictures) in the wild.
Isaac Spotts: I've actually never had a scary encounter with an animal yet! I run into bears quite often in the backcountry, but every time they've either ran away or went along eating grass.
JMM: Describe your favorite encounter with wolves.
Isaac Spotts: My favorite encounter with a wolf was earlier this spring in Grand Teton National Park. I saw it high up a mountain and watched it for about 30 minutes when all of a sudden it started walking down the mountain. When I saw it do that I got in my car and headed to a dirt road where it looked like the wolf was headed. After 20 minutes of waiting in my car, I looked over and saw it walking out of the dark forest right at me. Well, before I knew it, it was 30 yards in front of me just standing there watching me. It was an amazing moment!
JMM: Can you tell us something special about wolves that most people don't know?
Isaac Spotts: Wolves thrive in the winter. The way there paws are, makes it so they can practically float over the snow, whereas everything else sinks. So while every other species struggles to survive in the winter, wolves are the strongest on the snow and ice.
JMM: Has there ever been a scene that you conscientiously decided to watch rather than photograph?
Isaac Spotts: There are always moments when I'm out photographing that I just decide to watch instead of photograph. Most of the time it's with great gray owls. They're so rare to find that when I do get lucky and run into them, I always make sure to put my camera down for a few minutes to just take in the moment, and realize how lucky I am to be with such an amazing creature.
JMM: If you could travel through time, would you go into the past or the future? Why?
Isaac Potts: I would definitely travel to the past and try to find dinosaurs!! I would love to be able to see those incredible beasts we once shared this world with many years ago!
JMM: What is your longest standing obsession?
Isaac Spotts: I'm obsessed with going out and finding amazing animals! I spend hours and hours out in the woods, and when I find a subject that I've been looking for forever, it's the most rewarding feeling! I'm definitely obsessed.
JMM: Sunrises or sunsets?
Isaac Spotts: Both! Sunrise and sunset are the most magical time of the day. You have incredible golden hour light, and it's when all the wildlife come out of the woods and get active.
Click here for more on J.M.M.'s philanthropic efforts.
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