GAIL TWELVES, PHOTOGRAPHER
As a marketing/communications professional for over three decades, photography became a way to help tell a story of her own. The more she learned about the art of photography, the more she realized its power. As her photographic skills developed, Gail used her camera to communicate the plight of the two living creatures worth protecting – western mustangs and artic polar bears. These two passions have run throughout Gail’s life since an early age. Horses continued to be a centerpiece in her life since the age of five as she continues to ride and compete. She later became enamored with polar bears.
Her fascination turned to concern as climate change meant the polar bears had less time feeding on the ice and more time fasting on land. In 2010 Gail joined a small handful of photographers, led by two wildlife pros, and journeyed to the far Northeast corner of Alaska where polar bears gathered each fall, cleaning the last flesh off the town’s left-over whale bones, and waiting for the sea to freeze.
The photographers gathered in two small boats near where the bear families gathered, photographing them with the least impact on their lives. As long as the cubs were awake, the action was non-stop, and the compelling photos emerged.
Gail’s next wildlife photography opportunity focused on mustangs. She spent seven days amongst the many DNA-distinct herds of mustangs at the sprawling sanctuary, Return to Freedom. Entire herd families–stallions, mares and foals–were rescued from federal lands and relocated to hundreds of acres at the sanctuary just outside Lompoc,California. Here they live their lives free and protected. Other than hiking the mountains to photograph the herds, Gail enjoyed the simple art of observing wild horses behaving and communicating in their most feral form.
The plight of the western mustang is no less dire than the shrinking ice for the polar bears, however. Seen as competition to grazing cattle, mustangs are routinely rounded up by helicopters, driven to exhaustion until they are corralled into holding pens. Some are lucky enough to be adopted, or even rescued by Return to Freedom.
By sharing these stirring photographs of the polar bears and mustangs, Gail’s hope is that a connection will be made with both. And through that connection, she invites the public to join her in the protection of two creatures she feels are worth saving. She’s already planning her next trip to Alaska, to Return to Freedom, and to federal lands in search of mustangs in the wild.