Seeing through Photographs

By Kathleen Messmer

As an artist, my mission is always to give back in any way I can, and while my focus is on the creation of my abstract photographic art, I have been able to use the photographic genre to work with a variety of volunteer based organizations. I shoot benefits for kids with cancer and work with organizations that are trying to save the rapidly disappearing wildlife that was once abundant on our planet.

Recently, I was called on to shoot a benefit called Kids Helping Kids. It was not only a moving experience, but it was also amazing how much these kids want to rid the world of cancer, much like the doctors and researchers who work tirelessly to find a cure for this awful disease. There was music, dancing, and poetry (by both the kids and our New Mexico Poet Laureate – Hakim Bellamy) as well as smiles and tears. I was the only photographer there, and it was an honor to be part of a celebration the likes of which I’ve never witnessed before.

My purpose in shooting events like this is to bring to mind that everyone can experience joy, even in the face of something as debilitating and cruel as cancer.n addition to benefits, I’ve been fortunate to photograph wildlife that has become threatened, endangered, or extinct in the wild. In light of the recent cruel and senseless killing of a majestic, not to mention gorgeous (and endangered!) lion, I feel compelled to say that wielding a camera is the only kind of “shooting” that should be done when it comes to the magnificent creatures that roam this planet with us.

More often than not, the help we render comes in the form of a zoo, wildlife preserve, or rescue facility. With those things in place, regardless of their efficacy, we are at last trying to learn how to accommodate many species responsibly. However, it can be a daunting and difficult task to understand these animals. This alone makes it harder for us to help them to the best of our abilities.

My enthusiasm for wildlife preservation lies in my ability to show, through photography, that we really are trying to help them to not only survive, but thrive once again, in spite of the atrocities brought upon them by human greed and ignorance.

Photographing wild animals up close and personal is something not a lot of people get to do. Further, how many people can say they’ve been kissed by a Dingo or sung to by a dog? For that matter, how many can say they’ve been loved on by a huge Arctic Wolf? My photographic encounters have been nothing short of amazing and truly a once in a lifetime chance.

By depicting the beauty, vulnerability, and dignity of these amazing creatures, I hope to achieve a sense of intimacy between them and us. I want everyone who views these photographs to take an unwavering look at their plight. My hope is that these images will inspire greater empathy toward these all too quickly vanishing animals.