Kara Franker Kara Franker | November 24, 2021 | People Style & Beauty Feature Features Featured
A virtuoso with a camera, Aspen-based photographer Guadalupe Laiz draws inspiration from planet Earth and all its glory.
From her series Mountains, Guadalupe Laiz captures the Highland Bowls every year. This is the 2018 edition.
“New Earth” from her book Horses of Iceland.
Part artist and part conservationist, photographer Guadalupe Laiz has mastered the art of seizing the moment. Whether capturing the flowing mane of a wild Icelandic horse, the amber glow of an African lion’s eye or the stunning vistas of the Highland Bowl in her hometown, Laiz’s work is prolific. She talks about what moves her and how she uses her art to inspire others to care about the nature that surrounds us.
International artist and photographer Guadalupe Laiz.
Where do you think your deep reverence for nature comes from?
I think we are all part of it. In other words, we are nature. In this day and age, there is a big disconnection between humans and nature. Nature is an instinctive space for humans to roam and explore, but we need to integrate ourselves to be part of it. Intuitively, I have always felt it. Nature is where I feel more at home, no matter the country or continent. Lord Byron’s famous quote has stuck with me for decades: ‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.’
“P II” from the same title. Works by Laiz are available at her Aspen gallery located at 306 S. Mill St.
How has your work inspired your own environmental or animal conservation efforts?
The more I experience and see, the more I want to use my photography as a tool to reach people from all kinds of backgrounds. I’m very blessed to get to work with some of the best biologists and conservationists in the field. The world has done a terrible job protecting, respecting and caring for wildlife, but we can learn from our mistakes. And there are lots of unbelievable people working extremely hard to repair some of the damage we have caused. My work is a constant reminder that it is not just about being successful as a photographer or capturing a beautiful appealing image; it is about going deeper and realizing that it is our responsibility to make the world better. We must change the narrative we were born with and educate future generations to understand the importance of respecting our equals whom we share the planet with.
Highland Bowls 2019 edition.
“P” from Horses of Iceland.
You are about to head to Africa. What are you currently working on?
As a volunteer, I will be photographing the efforts that an organization called Save Giraffes Now is doing to help preserve giraffes from extinction in nine African countries. I will also be documenting the work of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. I will be photographing the relationship between endangered black rhinos and humans, creating impactful and powerful images to tell stories, which hopefully will resonate with people and generate awareness. During the third stretch of the trip, I will visit the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, located in the remote Samburu Mathew ranges in northern Kenya and home to the country’s second-largest elephant population. The organization cares for orphaned and abandoned elephant calves with the aim to release them back into the wild herds that live near the sanctuary. Lastly, I will spend time exploring several of Africa’s national parks to work on capturing images for my ongoing project, Among the Living, a book about African elephants that is almost finished.
A family of elephants from the photographer’s Africa collection.
What first inspired you to get into photography?
I think I have always been observant from a young age, and I have always found beauty in everything no matter where I am. I am drawn to nature and animals. My biggest inspiration has come from within, and I’m always trying to make moments my own, finding new unique ways to show what I see on the outside and translate it into what I feel on the inside. I have been an introvert my entire life, and I think inspiration has come from paying attention and observing how beautiful our planet is. I find beauty in everything: no matter the shape, color and form. For me, it is all about paying attention being present.
A single lion.
How do you know when it is the right moment to capture the image?
You have to be present. And with practice you can sometimes anticipate the moment before it happens. Practice makes perfect. Just like a guitar player, in the beginning you have to pay a lot of attention where you are pressing the strings and where the fingers are going, but over time you just feel it. Then you get into a flow where things just happen organically and where you can focus less on the camera and more on the process of being creative. The key is not just to take a picture of what is in front of you, but rather to capture the essence of what that moment is about. Sometimes that is capturing the grand scale of a specific space in time, and other times it is about zeroing in on the intimacy of having an animal so close to you.
Elephants walk along the dry African lands.
Any other upcoming news that we can share?
I’m looking forward to finally traveling to Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, to photograph polar bears in their natural habitat. The trip has been canceled a few times due to the pandemic. And I’m also very fortunate to currently be looking for space to open a second gallery.
Dubbed “Family III,” a herd of elephants walk in formation.
What is on your bucket list to photograph?
I would love to spend time in Argentina and discover the majestic landscapes that country has to offer. However, I like to focus on one thing at a time, and right now, I’m visiting Iceland again and working on a second book about Icelandic horses. And, of course, I’m investing lots of time and effort in Africa, where I feel that I need to be helping spread the message of the incredible work that so many people are doing to help wildlife.
Photography by: Photographed by Guadalupe Laiz