Wild Backyard, a saving grace during COVID

I have the privilege to work as wildlife, nature, and travel photographer, and as a naturalist guide. When quarantine started as a result of COVID-19, like many people, I was forced to stop everything and stay at home.

My work takes me to some of the wildest, most natural places in the world, including many of Costa Rica’s national parks, and being at home in eastern San José meant I no longer had the same exposure to all things wild. But as I slowed down, I began to observe many living things around my house and garden I had not seen before.

Bugs of every shape and size were literally everywhere, and I saw a opportunity to involve my kids (1.5 and 3 years old at the time) in this “backyard” project. We created a small makeshift “bug studio” in my home office and began to catch and photograph everything we could.

Both kids immediately became totally hooked, and we spent many mornings and afternoons together on bug-catching duty. The boys showed remarkable excitement when they found something new and brought it to me to photograph. The more we photographed, the more fascinated we become in the subject matter.

Each bug has personality. Some are comical, some happy, some fierce. As a result of the project meant to keep my kids engaged with nature during the challenging months of quarantine, I have a huge collection of photographs of our wild neighbors. I even received a grant from the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud’s “Becas Creativas” program to launch an Instagram project called @wildbackyardcostarica. I hope that this project that so inspired my family can also give a voice to these often misunderstood animals by engaging people to learn to appreciate them.