When a magazine calls asking to send you to Yellowstone National Park, the first question that runs through your mind is how soon can we leave? Earlier this year, photo editor extraordinaire Caitlin Peters at AARP the Magazine contacted us with an assignment to photograph park ranger John Kerr.
After speaking to John on the phone and learning about the distinct challenges (unpredictable weather, unpredictable wildlife, nonexistent cell service) of working in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park, Chris and I knew that we would definitely be in for an adventure. Keep reading for more of our story and behind the scenes with John Kerr…
John had given us instructions to meet him at the “Tower Ranger Station” inside Yellowstone Nation Park. Typically we’d call our subjects when we arrive to photograph them, but in this case there was no cell service – so we waited.
While waiting at the ranger station, we got very well acquainted with some of the animals we could encounter during our stay in the park. I was ready at any moment to fend off a charging bear with a lightstand or octabank if necessary.
Since John Kerr is an active duty park ranger, Chris and I were quickly immersed in his world, following him around as he tended to the needs of Yellowstone and it’s visitors.
And of course we made time to squeeze in a few portraits in between earning our deputy park ranger badges.
It looks like John got a chance to take a few shots himself… I swear everyone’s a photographer these days.
Throughout the day and throughout John’s patrol, we often made unscheduled stops – sometimes to check out the local wildlife. In this instance we spotted a pack of wolves feeding on a carcass. Unfortunately we didn’t pack a 400mm lens to get some nature close up photos.
As our day drew to a close and the sun began to set, we experienced (up close and very personal) the bison migration across the Lamar valley. It was truly amazing and equally scary to watch as herds of these 1000+ lbs animals strolled across the highway, unfazed by the herds of tourists and visitors snapping their photos.
We are incredibly lucky to be able to witness and capture the natural beauty of a place like Yellowstone. Chris and I have been all over this great country and there are few places that compare to the inspiring landscapes that it holds. We are equally as lucky to have met park ranger John Kerr – a patient portrait subject and truly interesting person, we left Yellowstone wishing we had just a little bit more time to explore and learn.