Guest Blog: Wildlife Photographer Kristi Odom
Hello, my name is Kristi Odom. I am a wildlife photographer and filmmaker, who is often on the road photographing in remote locations or teaching workshops photographing bears, sharks or some exotic animal. I have always felt I had to go far to photograph wildlife. My camera would often stay in my closet until a big trip, sometimes it would just live in my Think Tank airport roller bag waiting for the next adventure.
I had a dream to have one of my stories published in National Geographic, so every chance I got, I was on a plane traveling to far off lands to photograph exotic animals.
Up until the end of last year I lived in the DC area, so photographing wildlife around home was challenging, or so I thought. In 2018, in a series of fortunate events (which I may not have felt so fortunate about it at the time), I needed some wildlife photos in a short period of time. My schedule was too crazy to go on the road, so I had to shift my mindset and look for photos I could take of wildlife close to home. I randomly got an email, on the right day, at the right time, about an insect survey group that was going out to count butterflies and dragonflies. I had no idea the can of worms that this would open (pun totally intended there).
Passion is contagious, and this quirky group of insect enthusiasts, at first had me scratching my head and wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into… but soon had me excited and curious. From the patterns in a dragonflies back to the question marks on a butterflies wings, there was exploration and discovery all around. Every time I was in town on a Friday (they meet every Friday and have been doing so for 27 years to count bugs), I would grab my camera and head down to the local parks.
I found myself in the middle of a big story about such little critters. With climate change, use of pesticide and land management, there have been all sorts of changes in insect populations that this group’s data had keys to understanding. They also had records of the depth of biodiversity, endangered species, first arrivals of the seasons….their data helped preserve lands and create awareness. This group, who I now consider my close friends, quickly became my heroes. They were making change while connecting with nature.
The story was getting bigger. I asked a friend and amazing bee photographer (Brooke McDonough) to come and help me document these amazing humans and the mesmerizing insects. Then one day, I got an email from National Geographic: “The story has been approved!” I burst into tears (in all honesty, typing it out right now has put me into tears again). Not only did my dream of getting published in National Geographic come true, but I got to share a story that brought attention to the declining insect population and also highlighted my heroes that taught me just how much we can all make change (a link to the story can be found here).
Revisiting the same park over and over showed me just how much biodiversity there is close to home. From the bird life, frogs, plants, flowers, insects, there is so much to photograph in our own local parks and backyards. We are the best storytellers for our local spaces, and we don’t have to go far to marvel at wildlife. It truly is all around us.
This journey kept going, from photographing flowers at the local parks, I started buying florals from local flower farms to get time-lapses of them opening and closing. One day from a facebook advertisement, I ended up with mushroom kits to grow fungi from home. I am now marveling at wildlife through macro photography and time lapse videos of mushrooms that I am growing in my guest room.
It’s funny how life leads us on a journey. My camera used to sit for way too long in my closet. Now I am creating and marveling at nature almost every day. From the continuous time-lapse going off in my house, to grabbing my camera to check out the owls at a local park. I am constantly creating and connecting to nature. There truly is beauty all around us.
Kristi Odom is an internationally acclaimed photographer, a Nikon Ambassador, and a motivational speaker. A photographer and filmmaker, her work focuses on connecting people emotionally to animals and celebrating those who have a connection to the natural world. When she is not at home in Longmont Colorado, she travels the world photographing and teaching workshops. Kristi teaches photographers to improve their work through advanced camera skills and by creating an emotional connection with their subjects. Her accolades include over 60 international photography awards including 2 Nature’s Best Photography awards, which exhibited her images at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Her work has appeared either online and/or in print for the following clients: National Geographic, Nikon, Forbes, Rollingstone, Microsoft and Outside Magazine.