Updated: Jan 18
If you have ever found yourself wandering through a lush forest in the middle of summer, you know you will be surrounded by insects of all shapes and sizes. Western Conifer Seed Bugs, Silverfish, European Earwigs, and Carpenter Bees are some of the few species I grew up with in central Pennsylvania and, aside from the adorable fuzz of the Carpenter Bee, they were not the prettiest creatures to run into. In fact, they could be rather scary! To me, that is...
It stemmed from a childhood incident that really left me with a severe fear of bugs or Entomophobia. You see, when I was around eight I was a devoted gardener. I had a huge flower garden that I would water and cultivate into have the most magnificent array of colorful flowers. Our local news station even did a feature story on my garden and me!
However, one hot day while pulling weeds from the soil, I accidentally stepped on an ant hill. The hill wasn’t large, but the ants were plentiful. They ran across my shoe and up my leg. They bit and fought as I spirited through the yard swatting them off. My mother finally caught me and helped me rid myself of the pesky little specks, but the damage was done. I was now TERRIFIED of the little guys and all of their friends in the insect world.
Time and time again, I found myself avoiding any instances where I would come into close contact with insects. If I heard a bee buzz, I ran. If I saw an ant hill, I walked far, far away from it. It became almost a bad habit to keep myself at a distance from our crawly little friends.
A few years passed by and my fear of insects was starting to become a problem. As a person who would spend any and all of her freetime photographing plants and forest lands, being fearful of bugs wasn’t working hand in hand. That’s when I decided I would use my camera as a means to get over my fear and create amazing works of art too!
I would head out on my adventures with the sole purpose of finding and photographing any insects. I started myself off with an easy task: photographing butterflies. Butterflies are calm and elegant creatures that float gracefully across the sky, so they would be a wonderful starting point on my Entomophobia photo shoots.
After photographing butterflies and moths, I moved on to snails then bees then spiders. Each insect inhabited a different location and habitat. I became an expert on where to find certain creatures while also knowing what time of day was best for spotting them, when they produced offspring, and what kind of variation of species lived around rural Pennsylvania.
A few months later, I had developed myself a large portfolio of work revolving around the insects I once feared. I learned that photographing bugs was way more rewarding than one might originally think. I got to see first hand the emotional response people gave as they witnessed the delicate wing of a butterfly up close or the sharp, hairy legs of a spider. Macro photography had just become so much more than I thought it could be.
I kept photographing macros, both flora and fauna throughout my years in college. During my senior year, one of my photography instructors sent out an email detailing an application to apply to be a 2019 North American Nature Photographers’ Association Scholar. I learned through that email that, if selected, I would travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to help film a documentary about the Clark County Wetlands alongside other scholars and mentors from companies like Canon and National Geographic.
Of course this piqued my interest! I loved photography and I loved nature. I began my application right away telling the committee about my love of conservation and even discussing how my fear of bugs led me to have such a fantastic knack of photographing them. I submitted the application along with my insect portfolio the next morning.
I found out I was selected in December and traveled to the west coast in February! Who would have guessed that a girl so fearful of bugs would be able to use her skills to help teach others the importance of conservation?
So, I will keep photographing insects while on my hikes to share with others. It may be a silly thing, however it has graced me with a new point of view just like a macro daydream.