Left to right: Tom Myers, hanging out with a friend; emperor penguins in Antarctica; sled dogs ready for a meal in Greenland; an African gorilla; a 17-year Brood II cicada. All photos courtesy of Tom Myers.
Four baby emperor penguins waddle across an icy landscape with a piercing blue sky filling the frame. The penguins appear to consider their next move. Where to go next? It’s a unique and engaging composition, and it’s what a nature photographer seeks.
This is one of countless photographs taken by Tom Myers, owner and president of All-Rite Pest Control in Lexington, Ky., over the many years he’s spent as a photographer. Soon, the photo will be on display for thousands to see at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The photo, shown above, was recently awarded a Nature’s Best International Photography Award, and is being exhibited at the Smithsonian now until early 2014.
Getting the shot wasn’t as easy as going to the zoo.
“In the case of the penguins, we took a helicopter and landed on frozen sea ice,” Myers said, speaking of his recent expedition to Antarctica — a place where few ever set foot, but where Myers has been three separate times now. “It kind of depends on which species you’re shooting.” Myers entered the photo contest himself, which accepted about 20,000 images from photographers in approximately 46 countries. Of those, Myers’ penguins will be among the 40 on display in the museum this summer.
Myers said he became interested in photography when he was in high school. That interest continued throughout his college years while earning a bachelor’s degree in entomology from Purdue, where he took pictures of sporting events, among other subjects. His interest in nature photography eventually dovetailed with his passion for bugs. His first published photograph came in an extension office publication.
His work has also graced the cover of this very magazine several times — last month’s Fly Control Issue, for instance.
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Back to Antarctica, Myers’ award-winning photograph came during an “intense” trip to the desolate continent. “We’ve gone down at different times,” Myers said. “If you’re going during the summer, it’s almost 24 hours of daylight. You can be out from 4:30 a.m. and continue [shooting photos] until 11 p.m., because you have all that light.”
Antarctica isn’t the only exotic locale Myers has visited. He’s shot sled dogs in Greenland, gorillas in African rainforests and more. He said he is especially interested in photographing endangered species whose habitat is near the equator.
Naturally, Myers takes his share of insect photos, recently having shared with PCT a handful of new photos of 17-year Brood II cicadas. As well, for the past several years, Myers has emblazoned his company’s service trucks with some of his photos. Photos of ticks, katydids, grasshoppers, spiders and more, help All-Rite service vehicles stand out in traffic.
The author is associate editor of PCT magazine.