NMU professor to discuss book at webinar on Feb. 19


Photo courtesy of James McCommons CAMERA HUNTER – In response to the pandemic, NMU professor James McCommons holds webinar to discuss his latest book presented by The Nature Conservancy.

Ayanna Allen

NMU professor James McCommons, will be discussing his book, “Camera Hunter: George Shiras III and the Birth of Wildlife Photography”, through a webinar presented by The Nature Conservancy on Feb. 19 at noon. 

By presenting this webinar, The Nature Conservancy hopes to discuss the pictures and how they “celebrated American wildlife at a time when many species were going extinct because of habitat loss and unrestrained hunting.” 

According to the book’s description, “Camera Hunter: George Shiras III and the Birth of Wildlife Photography” explores wildlife, nighttime photographs taken with crude equipment and how his work shaped conservation movements. 

McCommons’ book was also selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan that brings attention to books written by Michigan authors and/or about Michigan. Due to the pandemic, McCommons has been unable to do his book tour in person. 

“I was able to do four or five book talks in person before COVID-19 hit. I did those here and around Marquette,” McCommons said. “Everything else I have done since then has been virtual.” 

However, McCommons has found that doing interviews and talks online is not much harder. McCommons looks forward to finishing two more scheduled talks. 

“George Shiras was an interesting guy,” McCommons said. “He was the world’s first wildlife photographer. He’s a guy Marquette can be really proud of. He did a lot of his work right around here.” 

McCommons’ work took place at Whitefish Lake, where he used a technique called fire hunting, or jacklighting. 

“He took pictures of animals at night,” McCommons said. “Either he would go out on a boat and listen for them on shore, and take a picture from the water or he began to take photos by setting up cameras in the woods.” 

Shiras’ invention, called trap cameras at the time, have evolved into modern day trail cameras. On top of this, Shiras was a congressman from Pennsylvania and friends with Theodore Roosevelt. He first introduced the Migratory Bird Act, which was an important piece of environmental legislation. The wildlife photographer was integral to the evolution of photography and environmental conservation. 

To learn more about George Shiras III and McCommons book, register here for the free webinar.