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Better Nature

See How This Photographer Documented His 5-Year-Old Daughter’s Introduction To The Wilderness

Kids are not easy to travel with. That’s why if you look in the backseat of any family truckster, you’ll find them rockin’ some Monkey Preschool Lunchbox or doped up on Frozen. American photographer Jesse Burke took a different tact with his daughter Clover. What started as a way to instill an appreciation of nature in his 5-year-old — and get excellent shots of some beautiful country — became both. Burke has visited everywhere from the shores of his home state of Rhode Island to the Canadian wilderness with her over the span of 5 years. As you can see below, the result was Wild & Precious, a moving chronicle of her exploration of nature. Below, Burke gives his thoughts on some his favorite moments from the book, including how ice cream can be the photographer’s best tool.

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In Forever Young: Rumford, Rhode Island JESSE BURKE

“This portrait was taken before I officially started Wild & Precious but seemed like a good starting image because it shows her pretty young (5-years-old) and the color of her dress and the background matches its sister image at the end of the book. This created a nice sense of a chronological timeline.’

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In Church In The Wildwood: Ruby Beach, Washington JESSE BURKE

“This image represented what I like to think of as a cathedral of the pines. The religiosity of nature has always been an interest of mine. Our god is mother nature and this moment really embodied that spirit for me. It’s so simple and sublime.”

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Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In We Must Believe In Magic: Sakonnet Point, Rhode IslandJESSE BURKE

“This image always seemed like an unintentional recreation of The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo. Clover’s outstretched hand reaching for the Gannet’s beak always seemed like an optimistic gesture, highlighting her desire to connect with wild creatures she would normally never get to touch and study.”

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In In A Young Girl’s Mind: Woodstock, New Hampshire JESSE BURKE

“I have always felt that the hope that is represented by the unicorn on Clover’s shirt acts as a counter to the serious contemplation on her face in this image. I often employ opposing feelings in a single image to illustrate the complications of the subject.”

Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In Red Velvet: Forks, Washington JESSE BURKE

“This was the very first sleeping image I took of Clover. I was just watching her sleep and thinking of how vulnerable and beautiful she looked. I was wondering what she was dreaming of. I had to capture those emotions in myself via these images.”

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In Best Friend: Rumford, Rhode Island JESSE BURKE

“Clover lost her first best friend that day, her guinea pig, Piggy Pie. She was crushed but handled it bravely and spoke of all the great times they had together. I wanted to memorialize that moment for her. The wind swept in and if it was the spirit of Piggy Pie swirling around her. I especially love that it masked her face.”

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In Lookin’ Back In Anger: Woodstock, VermontJESSE BURKE

“Clover is pretending to be mad at me here. I was asking her to please pay attention and let me get the shot. She was giggling and spinning round. She stopped and gave me a fake glare. It seemed perfect. Then went back to giggling.”

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In Look Unto The East: Dungeness Spit, WashingtonJESSE BURKE

“I had to blackmail her with promises of ice cream to get up on that log. It took me about 15 minutes of convincing. But against her fears, she did it and let me shoot her for a while. That bravery deserved the cover.”

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In I Shall Be Free: Campobello Island, CanadaJESSE BURKE

“This was the moment I realized I had to let go of all of the preconceived notions of how I wanted “my” project to work and look. Because it was really “our” project. Once I had this epiphany, the project took on a new life. After that Clover was free to spin in all the fishing debris she desired.”

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In I See A Darkness: Hoh Rain Forest, Washington JESSE BURKE

“This image allows me to inject some of the darkness I see happening all around us. The blackness of the background coupled by the masking of her face always seemed creepy in a way. That’s what I love about it.”

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In Flash And Blood: Stowe, Vermont JESSE BURKE

“We had just checked into our hotel room. Clover was in the shower and all of a sudden I heard yelling. “My tooth, my tooth!” I came running in, saw she had a bloody nose and said, ‘Freeze, let me get my camera.'”

Photographer Jesse Burke Introduces His Daughter To Nature In Lumberjack: Easthampton, MassachusettsJESSE BURKE

“Clover traced the rings of the trees for an hour that day. Just gliding her finger around and around. It was so peaceful to watch her make her way down the line. I ended up shooting detailed shots of all the different rings on various trunks. She allowed me into her world and let me see through her eyes. She has taught me so much.”