The Story of Lisa Loucks Christenson

 

By Lisa Loucks Christenson 

"Looking back, I've spent my most of my life studying and documenting wildlife, insects, plants; observing nature, shooting portraits of my family, friends, and clients; products, food, shooting pictures of animals, but mostly of wildlife, searching my soul and the great outdoors for my true calling; one that was right before me all along in every camera's viewfinder, in every pen, pencil, and sheet of paper I used, in every person, animal I met, and in the deep faith I found." ––Lisa Loucks Christenson

As a young child I loved creating my own picture books, nature books and field guides of every animal or insect I discovered. I learned how to shoot pictures with my parents' Polaroid® camera: eight black and white shots at a time.

Later, as a teenager, I started marketing and selling my images, winning awards, a national photo competition, ribbons; all earned from images I shot on my faithful Minolta SRT 201, and later my Nikon F3.

I made some really silly clay animation movies, I think one of them is floating around on the internet somewhere, shot dozens of wildlife shorts, insects, flowers, and two horror movies--which were really not that scary, all shot from my Super 8mm cameras.

Later, I worked as a lumberjack on the vegetation crew for the Minnesota Conservation Corp and was given the opportunity of a lifetime working in most of the state parks in central and SE Minnesota. My experience on this job led to my deeper appreciation for our outdoors and preservation of state lands, parks for the enjoyment of our future generations.  It was also a turning point for my life. I made the decision at the end of that fall to pursue my outdoor photography as a professional career.

Only God knew this decision would lead me to opening my own stock agency, photo studio, selling articles, and finally opening my own publishing house and galleries.

 I photograph nature as I discover it. I don't like re-arranging my photos (except in studio for food or product shots) all my documentaries are true scenes, pictures of what I found, how I found the scene and subject.

My job isn't just taking pretty pictures. It's breath-taking, hard work breaking through 6-10 foot Canary grass, stinging nettles, broken flood brush, getting bitten or stung by every kind of biting or stinging insect, and even a few snake bites.

It takes concentration and knowledge to avoid animal attacks, how to find fast shelter, driving swamped, slick, icy roads, dressing for the season, food and water, and keeping my equipment moving in -40 and colder temperatures. I've worked outside when the temps hit  -70s with wind chill to days on the opposite scale when it hit  116 degrees, I've got caught up in flash floods, severe thunderstorms, blizzards but mostly: I've spent my days enjoying God's world. 

I've been studying the river eagles for years, and started year 12 on 1/1/16. I've put together books, journals, photos, and films for each year of my documentary, but won't release the books until a future date. Two nemesis' remained, the cougars and the mystery snake that has now taken four dry bites on me in the past 12 years. I don't know if there will be a year 13, the eagles have always written their own stories through what I could understand: this year the eagles story changed, as did mine. 

I've enjoyed many career changes from working for the Minnesota Conservation Corps, different positions at various newspapers, radio shows, working as a traveling photographer, working in communications, dispatching, fulfillment and more. After years of selling my stories, articles, stock photos, books, both fiction and non-fiction, writing articles, shooting pictures, filming what I observe in the wild.

I thank God every day for the blessings He has given me. Allowing me the opportunity to live my dreams and photographing His world. Giving me the opportunity to use my knowledge and writing, illustrations to teach others about the outdoors. A chance to sell my art, cards, paintings, books, e-books, photos and sharing my work and what I've witnessed through exhibits and speaking engagements.

I shoot during all weather conditions; through every season. I know, in part, the struggles for survival our wildlife experience; I know because I've spent my life covering their stories as their (mostly) silent witness.

I've been there dodging the same flash floods that surrounded us; searching my way out of blinding blizzards that come out of nowhere––stranding and burying those who don't find shelter––quickly;  I've spent years observing wild animals, how they interact, how they bond, how they build, how they rebuild, how they escape attack, or die trying.

One of my best documentaries, still in progress is: Struggling for Existence. Far and above all my other work, this is the most important piece of myself and the lives I've observed. The births, the struggles, the existence, and sometimes their gruesome, violent deaths. I film and document the stories I find, I  speak to others about their births, family life, the struggles, the subjects first year and sometimes beyond that, their migrations, their lives as I documented them--their existence that they were here.

I believe we all have a story to share. See you on the journey. ––Lisa Loucks Christenson.