Once-upon-a-time I was a Montreal executive in the technology and communication sector. I have spent over 18 years at the intersections of entertainment, media and technology and I have worked creatively with brands as diverse as Blue Note, HBO, Disney, Much Music and Family Guy. Whether lecturing, consulting, designing multimedia programs or producing mobile entertainment content, I have always been driven by the creative process. In 2008 I made a life changing decision to resign from my position as Chief Operating Officer with a successful company—it was time for a new adventure. I had fallen in love with Africa on a 3 week trip to Tanzania in 2007 and so in September of 2008 I decided to return to the continent, this time to spend 10 weeks traveling through Southern Africa.
I have long been passionate about wildlife and having so many close encounters with incredible animals, from endangered black rhinos and wild dogs to cheetahs and leopards to reed frogs and dragon flies, was like living in a perpetual dream–except when an elephant bull visited my tent in the darkness of dawn, that WASN’T a dream! I saw close to 100 species of mammals and birds, took 35 game drives, slept in 24 beds, flew on 20 planes, explored 10 reserves, drank at 7 vineyards, visited 4 countries, walked in 2 oceans, got robbed once, and happily, saw no snakes…but I did share my room with a fruit bat.
I would spend long hours sitting quietly, lost in the minutia of the daily lives of these wondrous creatures, the only sounds coming from the nature around me. I would fix my lens on the smallest details; the hairs on a tail, lashes of an eye or the curve of a belly. Watching and learning about their social orders, survival instincts and their play and group dynamics was endlessly fascinating. I was absorbed in the ever-changing patterns of their skins, their whiskers, beaks and paws and was constantly astonished that I was in a position to be observing these Up Close. I was transported by the smells both pleasant and pungent and the sounds–especially at night! It was an amazing and privileged experience and continues to stay with me everyday.
Upon “re-entry” to my life in Canada I was faced with the challenge of a job search during an economic downturn—and a Canadian winter. However, all I could think about was the spectacle of African wildlife I had been solucky to spend time with and photograph. So, after much soul-searching I decided to put my executive life on hold and return to my creative roots to hopefully create a new livelihood. I started exploring the imagery I had captured and began building visual narratives from the lives I had observed. I immersed myself in my photos and rediscovered moments I had forgotten, and found new ones that were only revealed through a closer exploration of my work, such as a vervet monkey with one blue eye. The beauty of a photo is that it has the power to tell new stories each time you return to it and from these images and stories I began to create a portfolio of cards and prints that I now call Wild! Art.
In November of 2009 I launched an exhibit which evolved from my desire to create a unique experience of African wildlife. An experience that would be intimate, detailed and hopefully, surprising. I wanted to share with others the ‘“gift” that the African bush had shared with me. It was an exciting adventure putting it together, a passion-project that kept me grounded in the memories of a magical time and place. I have a second exhibit launching this coming November following a trip to Kenya this summer.
Because Africa is a long way away, it was time to start pointing my lens locally and uncovering the very different world of nature that surrounds me everyday. And so, several times a week I go out to uncover the surprises of the forests and streams. Along the way I am learning about myself and this next phase of my life.
You can find out more at www.njwight.com
I hope you enjoy my take on the world around me!
Flipboard Interview: http://inside.flipboard.com/2010/11/10/flipboards-interview-with-nj-wight/
For more photos try http://njwightupclose.tumblr.com