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NANPA Oral History Project -


Erwin Bauer

Erwin Bauer

Date of Interview: January 18, 2004
Interviewer: Shirley Nuhn (SN)
Transcriber: Susie Parrent
Length: 72 minutes
(Also present are his wife, Peggy Bauer (PB), and John Nuhn, photo director, National Wildlife magazine)


Track 11: (5:00 min.)

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EB: ...cat book, right here, this newest one. I don't know, I'm just all worked up about it because it made me think about old trips and old experiences like that and it was really fun.

SN: Peggy had mentioned your interest in the environment and that you might want to talk about that.

EB: Yeah, I really do have great interest in the environment.

SN: Let's hear what you have to say about the environment.

EB: Oh, hell, politicians today attack every other subject, everything including whether blondes should cut their hair and the environment is totally forgotten by all those idiots. It's terrible. The environment of the U.S. is going to hell. It really is. And it's worse elsewhere.

SN: What measure do you think might help? If there were some way to begin to improve things, what step do you think would be good? It would take a while, probably, to turn around the situation as you see it, but what do you think might help, as a starting point?

EB: Somehow we have to change human attitudes, and I don't see how it's going to be done. I don't know, the countries that should have the ability to know and think it out ought to elect new people for one thing.

SN: What's an example of one of the attitudes?

EB: Well, like [President George W.] Bush. He told us before the election and still tells us what a great conservationist he is and he's gradually breaking down rule after rule after regulation that we've had, you know, since even Reagan's time. I shouldn't get in on him 'cause I dislike him so.

SN: In what ways can you, Peggy, other nature photography experts, people within NANPA - what are some changes that we could bring about?

EB: Oh, I think that they could get into the environment more. I really think that. I think that they beat around the bush and get into subjects of no importance.

SN: Would it take lobbying? Would it take local legislation?

EB: Just making our position known, to be important. "As the North American Nature Photography Association, this is the way we stand on this issue." But I don't think we...

PB: Become political.

SN: More political?

EB: Yeah, I think so.

SN: There are the ethical standards - the behaviors in parks - and the Ethics Committee was working also on truth in labeling in images, but you think there's the need to more strongly address senators?

PB: That's all political stuff. It's so peripheral to the basic problem.

SN: What other points would you want to make?

EB: What other?

SN: Points about your work, about nature, about the environment?

EB: I think that most of the photographers we talk to are genuine good environmentalists, don't you think [asking Peggy]?

PB: I think they are, and I think we're not talking about people the way they act in the field. We see very few people that are acting the wrong way in the field. I think they're considerate of the wildlife and the environment and of other photographers. What we need to worry about is the environment, so we have more stuff to photograph, or at least keep what we have. And we're going to have to elect officials that act in that way. And that's what Joe thinks [laughs].

EB: That's just a personal thing - keeping the number of animals we have to photograph, because it's important to us individually. But I think that keeping animals in an environment that's intact and beautiful is more important. It's an important thing to everybody on the earth.

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