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Phil Douglis | profile | all galleries >> Gallery Eighty-four: Documentary photography – observing a miracle of nature tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Gallery Eighty-four: Documentary photography – observing a miracle of nature



Early in 2012, a pair of Red Tailed Hawks built a nest almost within sight of my Arizona home. They offered me a chance to document a miracle of nature over a four-month period. Within those months, two hawks became four. I photographed them every morning as these hawks built their nest, sat upon their eggs, and finally raised and nourished their nestlings after they hatched.

Documentary travel photography marches to its own drum. It offers a blend of description, verification, interpretation, and in the end, can achieve expression. In this case, a grouping of documentary images builds a memorable family portrait by incongruously placing the work of nature within the creations of man.

Amazingly, these hawks chose to build their nest upon the slats of a wooden awning perched high on the side of a four-story apartment complex within a Phoenix retirement community known as Sagewood – the very place where I also happen to now live. Several hundred of my neighbors enthusiastically followed the activities of these nesting hawks. Some avidly observed their behavior in person, and many viewed ongoing displays of documentary prints that I posted weekly in Sagewood’s clubhouse. Some of my neighbors had never even seen a family of hawks evolve before their eyes. My documentary photographs attempt not only to record this process, but also emphasize and interpret various aspects of this evolution.

While I may live in the midst of a vast urban area, the desert that surrounds us is always in sight. We view its mountains from our windows, hear coyotes howl in the night, and marvel at hawks such as these, circling overhead, looking for prey. The hawks in these images speak of that desert, and how it lives. The desert gave us a very special gift here -- an opportunity to play host to these wild creatures, at least for a time. For this documentary picture story, I post ten documentary images that best express the nature of this unique event.

I present this gallery, as usual, in "blog" style. A large thumbnail is displayed for each image, along with a caption explaining how I intended to express my ideas. If you click on the large thumbnail, you can see it in its full size, as well as leave comments and read the comments of others. I hope you will be able to participate in the dialogue. I welcome your comments, suggestions, ideas, and questions, and will be delighted to respond.