Teen Finds Nature Through a Lens

Anna's Hummingbird
(By Avery Locklear)

On a Saturday in January, Avery Locklear grabbed her camera and headed to the North Carolina Zoo to take some shots of the animals. “The hummingbird just really caught my eye, the way it glistened in the sun,” she says. Avery spent more than an hour capturing the Anna’s hummingbird.

Anna's hummingbird
(By Avery Locklear)

On the eve of the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, there seems to be no end to research about young people engaging less and less with the natural world around them. Recently, however, I came across fourteen-year-old Avery. She is turning her sights, and her lens, towards nature. “It feels so good to capture the moment and the places I’ve been and to revisit them,” she says.

The ninth grader from Winston-Salem, North Carolina aspires to be a professional wildlife photographer. She began snapping photographs in 2006 and now has more than 1,000 images in her portfolio.

Avery credits her family for her love of the outdoors and traveling. Her grandparents have brought her to 48 states, and it was watching her aunt and cousin taking pictures outdoors that inspired her to pick up her own camera. “They have given me a gift of great experiences and opportunities,” she says.

On a recent trip to Venice, Florida with her aunt, Avery spotted a group of pelicans on old piers in a small harbor. She was far away but took some pictures anyway. Looking at the pictures later, she noticed one bird with what appeared to be a hook through its foot. “So often people aren’t careful and they don’t realize what they do to animals,” she says.

pelican
(By Avery Locklear)

For Avery, photography has allowed her to get to know her subjects intimately, but from a safe distance. And when her passion inspired a friend’s younger brother, she had some wisdom to impart. She already knew it can take all day (or longer) to get that perfect shot. Most importantly, she told him, “It’s not the camera. It’s the person taking the pictures.”

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