On Friday, November 16, 2018, fourteen Columbus area residents will become part of the TEDxColumbus community when they present their talks for On the Edge.
It’s a really small world after all
by: Wendy Cornett
Bringing respect – and even compassion – to the much-maligned world of insects is no easy feat. But one woman has found a way to stir emotional attachments to six- and eight-legged creepy crawlies one spectacularly detailed photograph at a time.
Not many folks share photographer Danae Wolfe’s perspective on insects and arachnids, primarily because she uses a reverse lens macro technique that enables her to count the tactile hairs on a jumping spider.
But the stories she tells through her breathtaking photos go far deeper than the deceptively durable exoskeletons of these invertebrates. Insects, she tells her audiences, display remarkable maternal instincts, extraordinary adaptability and a fight for survival that is critical to the very foundation upon which all existence is built.
“Invertebrates are in massive global decline, and they form a fundamental core of our human and natural systems,” Wolfe said. “Without invertebrates, our world as we know it would completely collapse.”
And yet, conservation efforts to safeguard the continuation of invertebrate species are about as common as honey bees in winter.
“We’ve always been innately connected to charismatic animals like lions and tigers,” she added. “We want to protect them and conserve them even if we’re thousands of miles from them. Bugs are everywhere around us, and most of us have grown to hate them.”
Wolfe’s interest in photography began developing around age 12. Her mother had purchased a new camera, and Wolfe used it to take photos of flowers that would eventually earn her best of show honors at the county fair. A lifelong passion was born. She was always drawn to close-up, macro botanical photography, and in college, she became keenly aware of the bugs that populated her plant subjects.
“From there, it snowballed,” she reflected. “I need to photograph bugs, and I need to tell their stories.”
It’s Wolfe’s dream that photography and digital storytelling can build a bridge between humans and invertebrates that spurs an emotional connection. Putting faces to these tiny creatures enables people to look them in the eyes for the first time.
“My biggest hope is that people will just be a little bit interested in looking at bugs differently,” she shared. “I want them to think about the role that the insect or spider plays in our broader world.”
Danae Wolfe works as an educational technology specialist for Ohio State University Extension, where she teaches faculty and staff how to engage audiences online. She previously served as an extension educator in Summit County, where she taught horticultural programs about backyard bugs and pollinators, and native gardening. She shares her photos and stories on her Facebook page (Danae Wolfe Macro Photography), her personal blog (chasingbugs.com) and through online content publishers PetaPixel and BoredPanda.
Want to know more? Purchase tickets through Ticketmaster or by calling the CAPA Box Office at 614-469-0939.