Why do you film nature and wildlife?
I’ve always loved anything that had to do with animals. My parents have an old 8mm film of me trying to feed an apple to a rocking horse or talking to an inflatable elephant. I took my first real photograph when I was eight and of course, it was of a walrus at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago. I think that’s what started my journey towards becoming a nature and wildlife cinematographer.

At first it was just about being able to take home the amazing sites and animals that I encountered on my trips into nature. The more I photographed nature, the better I wanted to become. The thought of doing anything professionally never entered my mind. My goal was to improve in order to better capture the feelings I had when I was out in nature sharing a moment with wildlife or just watching a spectacular sunrise.

Flying insects filmed backlit as they emerge around sunset

Backlit insects filmed as they emerge towards sunset

Transitioning to video was a natural progression of this. Capturing the motion and sound of a mist shrouded river in Yellowstone or filming a black bear scratching its belly in the middle of the road while cars pile up behind it we simply things that photography couldn’t entirely capture. It was all to bring home the experience and to somehow relive it even just a little bit when I returned home.

As I grew older, I began to understand the uphill battle nature and wildlife had just to simply exist. Greed, power, money and even ignorance were destroying the things I loved at an alarming rate and I felt there was nothing I could do about it.

The rainforest is being destroyed at the rate of one and a half acres every second. Wolves were taken off the endangered list in hopes that it would help a congressman get re-elected. Every day sixteen species of plants and animals become extinct ever day. That’s 21,894 living entities that will never be seen by human eyes ever again. And I felt helpless to stop any of it.

I think there’s nothing worse than to see something you love being destroyed and feeling helpless to do anything about it.

So many people have told me over the years how much they enjoyed my work, but I’ve always felt that something was missing. I still wasn’t able to put into that video footage what I felt about nature and wildlife in my heart. I didn’t have direction. I felt like I was marooned without a compass.

Tallgrass prairie flower

Sometimes you only need to make a small change to find your way

Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I realized that even if I couldn’t stop a bulldozer in the Amazon or prevent a wolf pup from being gassed in its den, I could change myself.

And so my quest to find purpose and direction began.

I won’t bore you with all the details but I made some significant changes in my life.

But wolves are still suffering in leg hold traps, rain forests are still being burned and sixteen plants and animals will vanish from the planet forever.

So who the hell cares that I made changes in my life?

Honestly, probably no one. But I do know that if you continue to follow this website, you’re going to see the results of those changes even if you don’t realize it.

You see, by being the change that I want to see in the world, I’ve found my direction. My compass is finally leading me towards a destination and you’re coming along with me because this epiphany if you will is changing the way I film nature and wildlife.

You may not notice a big change, heck you may not even notice a little change but it’s there. It may be as small as a grain of sand, but when combined with another and another and another, it will sandblast the world.
So stay tuned and see if you notice the change.

If you’re feeling that your nature footage is just missing something that you can’t quite= put your finger on, give your compass a shake and see if it doesn’t point you in the right direction.

Shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!

Kevin J Railsback is an award-winning nature and wildlife filmmaker

Grizzly bear in Montana walks along a mountain ridge during a storm