“I love having camera phones”
SINGAPORE — His works are synonymous with stunning photos of tigers, cougars and lions in the wild and he has captured some of the world’s most previously isolated countries, such as Cuba and Myanmar. But photographer Steve Winter’s prolific career might not have happened if he had not read National Geographic magazine as a child.
“I live in a heavily agricultural area in United States (Indiana) and part of the reason that I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer was to leave that area,” he explained. “I would look into the pages of National Geographic while I was growing up as I was interested in people and cultures and I wanted to travel. I wanted to see all these places that I saw in the pages of National Geographic.”
Well, the 59-year-old has definitely covered a significant part of the globe and has had an unusually big share of adventures — from getting stalked by jaguars in Brazil to waiting out in the cold to photograph snow leopards in Northern India (the very same snow leopards seen on the screen of Apple notebooks).
He is also taking part in the National Geographic Live In Singapore series next week. “I have a fascination with large carnivores and want to tell their stories, to show that big cats, like all animals, eat, play, mate, have kids,” he said, adding that he wants to find a way to get people to feel closer to these animals — even if it is through cute cat videos.
Q: What do you think of all the cat videos and photos flooding the Internet?
A: I’m super happy about people’s love for cats on the Internet. Cats are number one on the Internet. My goal is to get everybody to love big cats as much as they love the small cats. If we can get people to love big cats as much as they love the small cats, maybe we could then save them. So, I have talked to people who run websites for cats, to try to figure out how I might tap into the cat craze on the Web. In the end, they are all cats; domestic cats came from the African wild cat.
Q: You have also captured images of previously isolated countries like Myanmar and Cuba. Now that they have opened up, what would you recommend travellers to go see?
A: I would say to go see the people, because the people in these places to me are the most fascinating. In Myanmar, I was most interested in their fascinating Buddhist culture and the temples. Try to get out to the lesser-known areas because you can find the people there as fascinated with seeing us, in the same way we are fascinated with them. In Cuba, I love (the people and) the music. The people are so friendly. It’s so beautiful, with beaches and palm trees. It’s a perfect destination. The music is just a great mixture of African and Caribbean. It’s one of my favourite places on the planet.