Into the Wild
Florian Schulz: “There needs to be
much more storytelling, because there’s
such an onslaught on the planet, on
the resources. We are by far not doing
enough and people do not understand the
connections, what’s all going wrong.”
Top: A mother polar bear and her cubs jump between ice floes to escape a male polar bear,
Barents Sea, Norway. Above: Porcupine caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.
Not only are wildlife corridors an important conservation concept, Schulz has
differentiated himself and his work through his dedication to promoting them
through the “Freedom to Roam” brand he has established. “I can only survive if
people understand that the work that they see from me is being done with a dif-
ferent relationship to the environment,” Schulz says. “I’m not just going ten days
to Africa and one week to Asia. When I do something it’s more project oriented
and it will be telling a more complete story about a place.”
Schulz’s next major project is a book about the coastal corridor that runs from
Baja California, Mexico to the Beaufort Sea in Alaska, and he also plans to take the
“Freedom to Roam” projects beyond North America to Africa and other locations.
These long-form projects also translate into meaningful speaking appearances
for Schulz in Germany, the United States and elsewhere. “It’s very beautiful to
have a chance to give these live presentations,” Schulz says. “To connect with
people and tell the story and let them feel [my experiences] is very rewarding.
People are so moved and you get that feedback, its something really beautiful.”
A major challenge for wildlife photographers, Schulz says (echoing a sentiment
felt in nearly every genre of photography), is that the work is undervalued. “So
many people love the idea of being a pro wildlife photographer, and make the
mistake of giving their images away because they feel they are going to do better
later if they give away their images long enough,” Schulz laments.
And despite the growing public interest in the environment in recent years,
Schulz says, funding for work like his has not increased substantially. The green
movement “has not translated into more support for many more people to do
what I do,” Schulz explains. “Even for me, I am fighting for it all the time.”
Schulz recently purchased a RED Epic camera and is beginning to do video work
in addition to capturing stills in the field. “Some stories I can tell better if it’s a mix
of stills and film,” he explains.
“There needs to be much more storytelling,” he adds, “because there’s such an
onslaught on the planet, on the resources. We are by far not doing enough and
people do not understand the connections, what’s all going wrong.”