Leaving university with no exact idea what I was going to do next, I kept an ear to the ground hoping, praying for something to grab my attention. I was looking for any opportunity that would allow me to get a much-needed fix for my travel addiction as well as utilising my recently completed zoological studies.
Options came and went, I even had an incredible three-month stay in Malaysian Borneo, but this didn’t fully engage my newly acquired knowledge/interest. Then, while still on that trip I came across a research role in Costa Rica working with Scarlet Macaws. With the acceptance of couples I called my girlfriend, a biologist, and the next day we applied and the following week we had the job!
With not a word of Spanish between us we headed off for a new, unimaginable challenge. The initial six-month length was certainly daunting but we quickly settled into our busy roles. Doing two treks a day everyday in the sweltering heat certainly helped to get us in shape as we monitored these charismatic birds.
Costa Rica is one of the few countries that seem to have taken grasp of ecotourism and the potential that it holds. Based in a private reserve called Tiskita in south-western Costa Rica, here the rainforest is alive. From capuchin monkeys and coatis foraging on mangosteen fruits to hummingbirds supping nectar from flowers while macaws feed on fruits amongst the canopy, here is an ecosystem that is teeming with life, managed by the community.
What am I learning from this experience? The privilege of being outside, exploring all day, everyday is simply fantastic. Of course there are downpours, tropical downpours that leave you sodden to the bone and storms that illuminate the night sky with violent lightning strikes. This adds to the whole experience and has made me appreciate nature more. Being put well out of my comfort zone due to limited communication was daunting but I’ve learnt that people will genuinely try to help you in whatever way possible.
How can six months in the same spot help creativity?
Apart from working as a researcher, I am also trying to capture the beauty of this place with my camera. With any form of wildlife photography I find that the most valuable commodity is time, and here I am lucky enough to have ample amounts of it. I don’t necessarily have the most ideal equipment for all of my ideas but with time, patience and a bit of understanding I am able to work towards some of the photos I’ve dreamt up.
Ben is a zoologist and environmental photojournalist who is a Fujifilm X-Photographer. Focused on trying to highlight the beauty and fragility of the natural world, he tries to seek out ‘moments’ moving beyond animal portraits to trying to capture personality and characteristics that define life.