When a father and son began taking pictures with animals, they never dreamed it would turn into a mission of love.
Tallon Nightwalker, 16, has amassed 840 photographs of himself with different birds, reptiles and mammals from the time he was 5 years old until now. He and his father hope to get a photo of Tallon with every creature on the planet.
The father and son team plan to get about 100 photos each year or as many as they can. Most years they have hit their target.
The journey began when Tallon’s dad, Bob, who is the manager of the Larimer (Colo.) Humane Society’s wildlife rehabilitation department, recalled all the interesting and sometimes exotic animals he’d handled but hadn’t thought to photograph during his career. He decided to start taking shots with Tallon in them when the boy was just 5.
The pair has simple rules about the photographs they take. First, Tallon must appear in every shot. Second, the animal has to be alive. Next, Tallon must be holding the animal, next to it, in the foreground or the background. Finally, the animal must be barrier free.
They want their pictures to be unique. Anyone can stand in front of an enclosure and snap a picture. The pictures are edgier and elicit more of a response this way. Even with dangerous animals, the duo use caution. They have years of animal handling skills to rely on as well as those of the handlers whose facilities they sometimes visit for their project. There have been a few close calls and Tallon has even been bitten a few times, though never seriously.
The junior at Poudre (Colo.) High School has been helping out at his dad’s rehabilitation department since he was 5, taking care of sick or injured animals and nursing them back to health. He loves the work so much that he plans to make it his career as well.
How do they get all those incredible shots? Aside from visiting other animal facilities, they father-son team will sometimes take camping trips to California or South Dakota to broaden their range of subjects.
The other benefit the Nightwalkers cherish is the quality time they spend together. At a point in life where most teens start trying to avoid their parents, Tallon looks forward to the time he spends with his dad. Sure, they argue and dis agree but as Bob puts it, ‘when we’re in the moment, it’s a really cool experience.’