Thursday, July 12, 2012

UPDATE: Meet Barbara von Hoffmann (before the Smithsonian does)

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 1:13 PM

The local artist contacted us recently about her trip to the Smithsonian, and documented her stay with some photos. She hopes to exhibit her work here in town next, possibly at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, but no plans have been made yet.

In the meantime, here are some shots from the show:

The exhibit at the Smithsonian.
  • The exhibit at the Smithsonian.

Visitors in front of von Hoffmanns photograph.
  • Visitors in front of von Hoffmann's photograph.

Von Hoffmann speaking.
  • Von Hoffmann speaking.

——- ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 19, 2011, 3:29 P.M. ——-

The winning image: Rothschilds Giraffe
  • Barbara von Hoffmann
  • The winning image: "Rothschild's Giraffe"

You may know Barbara von Hoffmann for her professional pet photography. Or you may know her as a wildlife photographer who frequents Africa and other locations around the world. But Von Hoffmann is now one of the 16 winners in the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International 2011 Awards Exhibition, a nationwide contest in which winners get their winning shots displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.

This is a prestigious contest, von Hoffmann says, on par with the Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in Britain. To get an idea about the level of photography, view last year's winners here.

Of the 15 category winners and one grand prize winner, von Hoffmann is the only woman, and one of four Americans. Her contribution, under the Zoos & Aquariums category, is a tender image of a week-old giraffe nuzzling its mother. She captured the shot at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, while waiting there on a layover.

Von Hoffmann, who says she rarely enters competitions, submitted 20 photos, most of them of African wildlife. She decided to throw in the giraffe image last.

“I was notified when I was one of the 500 in the semifinals, and at that point I was beside myself,” she says.

Then she got the news she was one of the winners, having beaten out 21,000 other submissions. “It’s one of those things you dream about, but doesn’t really happen,” she says.

Von Hoffmann has lived in the Springs since coming here in 1979 to follow her son’s figure skating career. She was already an avid photographer, having learned the trade from her father, a filmmaker and photographer, and from a man she met in 1970 on her first trip to Africa, noted Canadian photographer Freeman Patterson. On another trip in 1973, she developed a love of wildlife, and most especially, elephants.

She wouldn't return to Africa until 1991, when both of her sons had grown. But she's made annual trips there ever since. Starting in 2001, von Hoffmann has led small photo safaris through Africa every February.

Capturing wildlife on film is her passion, she says, and she’s traveled to places like Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands and India to do it. Her photos have been made into calendars, and have appeared in publications like Outside, National Geographic World, Discover, Smithsonian and more.

Von Hoffmann will go to Washington, D.C., next spring for the opening of the Nature’s Best show, along with the other winners. (Categories include: Youth Photographer of the Year, Conservation Photographer of the Year, Birds, Endangered Species, Oceans, People in Nature, Landscapes, Plant Life.) The exhibit will be up for six months, and von Hoffmann wants to make the most of it.

“I think I’ll pitch a tent and walk in every day and say, ‘Oh my god.’”

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