Photographer Brings Wildlife Up Close and Personal

February 24, 2023

Kathryn Lentz leads a double life. The wild one will be on display at Heller Nature Center in March and April.

It started when she brought home a stray dog. And then another. And another. Unfortunately, she learned, each already had a home. Her own first dog arrived when she was seven, and that began a life-long journey of caring for pets, rescuing animals, writing a popular series of children’s books, and making stunning photographs of animals in the wild. For the upcoming exhibit in the Prairie Room, Kathryn has curated a selection of 40 photos from the thousands in her portfolio that she has made over the last seventeen years.

Lentz has a background in art that clearly shows in her work. The photos are beautifully crafted—from the subject to the composition and lighting. These are thoughtful images, each with a story that draws you in, and invites you to spend time looking closely. Wildlife photography comes with a unique set of challenges. Working outdoors is one. Subjects who are free spirits is certainly another—there’s no saying “move a bit to the left, love”—so quickly assessing the right place to be at exactly the right moment is a critical skill learned the hard way. “I had a wonderful instructor who impressed upon us the importance of carefully composing the scene before clicking the shutter,” says Lentz, “And of course we were using film, which was expensive, so I learned not to waste it.” Even so, like most serious photographers, she would come back from a road trip to National Parks with thousands of images. A couple of quotes from Ansel Adams are evident in her work: “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” And one that iPhone camera users should memorize: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”  Photography is, after all, art.

The exhibit at Heller features images that can be appreciated by all ages, so be sure to bring your kids and grandkids. If you’re a smartphone camera enthusiast, an amateur photographer, or a working pro there is much that will inspire you to get outdoors and make your own photos. Lucky for you there are woods and trails throughout the Park District where you can find plenty of interesting, and sometimes unusual, animals to photograph.

As an extra treat for kids and families, some of Kathryn’s children’s books (created on the milder side of her life) will be in the Nature Center. Get acquainted with the animals in her stories and download some free coloring pages at Her photography can be seen on Facebook at Kathryn Lentz Author.

Heller Nature Center, 2821 Ridge Road, is open Tuesdays from 11:30am–5pm; Wednesday–Friday from 10:30am–5pm; and Saturdays from 9am–3pm. We’re closed on Sundays and Mondays. Call us for more information: 847-433-6901.