Photographer Captures African-American Connections to the Natural World – Dudley Edmondson

Dudley Edmondson, Outdoor Afro guest blogger, photographer, and author of Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places, goes on in this second part to share how he came to photograph African Americans in the outdoors.
Read Part 1
In the four-year process of doing Black and Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places, I have met some pretty cool people who understand what I am talking about. It has clearly changed the direction of my photographic work. I find myself not just interested in the plants and animals that live on the land but the people who sometimes share those environments with them.
People like Steven Shobe and Elliott Boston, two World Class climbers and mountaineers. These two men have climb on nearly every continent on earth in places like Russia, France, Germany and the continents of South America and Africa. They’ve seen a lot of places, a lot of people, and a lot of the natural world. I became interested in their stories after finding Elliott and getting him to agree to be featured in my book.
I was fascinated by mountains and mountaineers after reading Jon Krakauer’s “Into thin Air” and people who risk their lives climbing them intrigued me. In order to photograph climbers I learned you also have to climb as well. That did not sit well with me at first and still bothers me a bit. I wanted to watch them do what they do but not do it myself. Needless to say hanging out with these two I have now climbed in the Ozark Mountains, climbed halfway up Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and ice climbed in Ouray, Colorado. It is something I don’t think I will ever get use to but would jump at the chance to work with Steven and Elliott wherever they find themselves in the world. Working in the open voids of mountain gorges, ravines and peaks does give you a view of the world most people will never see and I am glad I have had the experience and as long as Steven and Elliott are there it will be memorable.
I believe focusing my lens on people like Steven and Elliott will help paint a more complete picture of what African Americans and other people of color are doing. It shows the world that there is diversity among ethnically diverse people and we are capable of so much more than the narrow scoped, negative images the media shows us. I believe in this so much that I have staked my photographic future on it and I very comfortable with that.
Photo: Dudley Edmondson on the shores of Lake Superior near Silver Bay, MN by Nancy Latour-Edmondson

Photographer Captures African-American Connections to the Natural World

Dudley Edmondson

Introducing guest blogger Dudley Edmondson, an African American photographer who shares how he came to photograph African Americans in the outdoors. This is the first of 2 parts:
You know photography has been a part of my life so long it is difficult to remember when it all started. It began as a way to document my bird sightings as a birder way back when I was a freshman in college. Then the idea of it becoming a potential career became a reality when I decided to move from Ohio to Minnesota. I decided Minnesota had everything I needed to be a successful nature photographer so I put down roots in Duluth the gateway to the great north woods full of eagles, wolves and many other exciting species not found in Ohio.
Things all came together after several years and after a very successful career as a nature photographer I decided to challenge myself again and become an author. The subject matter would be very different from what I had done as a photographer. This time I wanted to tell the story of people like me, African Americans who had a deep and unwavering connection to the earth and nature. The book project became “Black and Brown Faces in Americas Wild Places”
These people I felt could help black folks from coast to coast find their way back to the natural world their African ancestors once knew as well as they now know their own backyards. I am certain that as humans our mental and physical being is inexplicably tied to the natural world around us. People who submerge themselves in nature both physically and mentally our simply healthier people. That is the message I have tried to convey with my book. Trying to get people to understand that is not always easy. If you tell someone that the health of the ecosystem not only effects their health but that it is actually more important than anything else going on in their lives right now, few would be able to grasp that concept. Without your mental and physical health what do you really have? Without clean water and clean air what good really is anything else you might posses?