The Arrow Lakes Historical Society (ALHS) was host to a documentary feature film on Nov. 20. The feature, Eyes in the Forest is a short film about local photographer Jim Lawrence.
Instead of being held at the library, where something like this would normally take place, it was held in the archives of the ALHS. This would prove to be a wise decision, as so many people showed up, extra chairs were needed to accommodate everyone.
Examples of Jim’s work were displayed along the back wall, and could be viewed by the public as they made their way to the seating area.
The film, produced by Miriam Needoba, was about 12 minutes long. There was no background music in the film. Apart from Jim speaking, the only sounds were those which occurred naturally in the forest, like that of a rushing river.
Needoba first heard of Lawrence at Community Futures. She was intrigued by the style of the photographs.
“They’re such striking images,” she said. “They’re not just wildlife shots, they really speak to this tradition of portraiture, a very formal tradition. I was intrigued by it.”
Needoba had planned on making a documentary film, and though Lawrence would make a great subject.
To say Lawrence’s photos are striking is pretty spot on. He does a fabulous job of capturing the personality of the wildlife he photographs. In the photograph of an owl, you can practically see one of its eyebrows raised in question. Another photo, a shot of a bald eagle, giving the camera a look as if to say “Who are you and what are you doing here?”
“I like to portray the bright side of an animal,” he said. “Like with people, animals have different moods. Sometimes they look happy and they’re smiling, sometimes they’re angry.”
He said sometimes the animals can make you embarrassed, like you have to walk away.
“Owls can really scowl at you. If they don’t want you around, they can tell you with their eyes.”
Growing up, Lawrence was surrounded by photographers, from his mother, to teachers interested in nature and photography, to one very surprising source of inspiration: a trapper.
“He was an enlightened man who killed the animals, but he also treated it like a farm. He wouldn’t go over a trap of a given species. He was very careful.”
Members of the audience were excited to view the film, along with Lawrence’s photos.
“I’ve loved Jim Lawrence’s work from way back when, so I thought it was really wonderful to hear the man behind the photographs,” said Linda Dixon. “You can tell in his photographs how much he feels for the wildlife, and to hear him speak was really wonderful.”
Lawrence shared something else close to his heart that night: The wish to end trophy hunting in B.C. There was a petition at the back of the room for people to sign. If it gets enough signatures, it will hopefully be submitted to the B.C. Legislature. It currently has a few hundred signatures, but it needs a few thousand.
“Bears become friends. You can become fond of a bear like you can become fond of a dog,” he said
“The thought of somebody shooting them just to hang their head is