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Documentary celebrates pioneering photographer Karl Maslowski

Karl Maslowski
Karl Maslowski traveled near and far to photograph wildlife. Here he is seen filming in the Yukon Territory in the 1970s. Photo courtesy Maslowski Family Archives

Karl Maslowski (1913-2006) helped introduce generations of Americans to the natural world through his newspaper columns, wildlife photographs, and pioneering films. A recently released one-hour documentary, Wildlife Photographer: The Life of Karl Maslowski, combines archival photographs and film, interviews, and HD video for a compelling look at Maslowski’s long career from his impoverished childhood to his work as a conservationist.

The documentary is a co-production of Steve Maslowski, one of Karl’s sons, and Voyageur Media Group, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation of educational media.

Karl Maslowski began photographing wildlife in the 1930s with an $8 used still camera and a borrowed movie camera. The son of an immigrant gardener, he was forced to leave high school to work at age 15 but quickly mastered the challenges of early photography and stalking wildlife. By the time he was drafted in World War II, Maslowski was working full-time as a wildlife photographer, cinematographer, and writer. He further refined his skills while serving as a combat cameraman in Italy.

Returning home, Maslowski contributed to Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventure series, lectured nationwide about wildlife and conservation, and began producing outdoor documentaries for a variety of clients. He eventually became one of the most published wildlife still photographers of his era. His nature column for the Sunday Cincinnati Enquirer ran for half a century, and his work appeared in many magazines, including Birder’s World. His lifelong devotion to conservation helped preserve thousands of acres around Greater Cincinnati, including Cincinnati Nature Center, Oxbow, Inc., and the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System. And his work was recognized nationally by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and others.

The film is available for free at vimeo.com/668320599.

A version of this article will be published in the September/October 2022 issue of BirdWatching.

Follow the film’s Facebook page

A photographer’s guide to blinds: Windows on nature. By Steve Maslowski

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