TED Talk of the Week: Photos That Add a Voice for the Animals

Frans Lanting uses his camera to show what all living things have in common.

Dec 8, 2015

Frans Lanting is that nature photographer. The one that lives in a tree trying to get a good shot of a macaw, camps inside a volcanic crater for a chance to photograph a giant tortoise, and journeys to the depths of Botswana’s rain forests, Antarctica’s frozen tundra, and Madagascar’s jungles to capture the beauty of nature.

So why does Lanting go to such lengths for a good photo? He explains in this TED Talk of the Week. With a slideshow of his stunning photographs in the background, Lanting recounts the tribal legend of the Kwikwasut'inuxw people of an island not far from Vancouver. As the legend goes, there was a time when all animals on Earth were one – though they looked different on the outside, they were all the same on the inside. To celebrate their unity, they would gather at a sacred cave from time to time, take off their different scales, feathers and skins - and dance. But one day, a human arrived at the cave and laughed at what he saw because he did not understand. The animals fled, embarrassed, and that was the last time they joined together in dance.

It’s this ancient understanding that all animals are one that inspires Lanting. He explains, “When I use my camera, I drop my skin like the animals at the cave so I can show who they really are.” In this compelling three-minute clip, Lanting illustrates the unity of life and makes a convincing argument for why we should all find a way to join the dance.

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