Photo Portfolio: John & Pamela King
Into The Wild
For John and Pamela King, their shared lifelong passion is to experience and capture the earth’s wild places and wild things through their photography. “We are a partnership,” shares John. Originally both commercial fishermen in Alaska, the couple met up there some years ago, later raising their family in the Pacific Northwest, “And now we have been observing nature here on the Cape together for about twelve years.”
As a young man John spent his summers on the Cape, he explains, “My family has a rich history on the Cape that spans 13 generations. My grandparents were nature lovers and had a hunting camp on Monomoy, so I always loved the outdoors. I was a big sailor and always found myself on the water, but back in those days I paid little attention to the wildlife that was visible in the 1960s.” After almost thirty-five years of being away from the Cape, the couple returned to live on Cape Cod full time. “When I came back, I realized just how fortunate we were and how much the Cape had changed,” he remarks. “It was clear that through fundamental conservation efforts Cape Cod had been meaningfully transformed since my youth and was worth studying and talking about.”
The couple became fascinated with whales; “We first returned at sea photographing humpback whales and minke whales,” says John. Through those experiences, the couple made connections with the local scientists who study them. The more the couple explored and photographed, the more driven they became to learn about our local wildlife. “We are self taught naturalists,” explains John. “We are not trained in the sciences, but we spend a lot of time out in the field observing.” The couple considers the Cape as a National Park setting, particularly the Outer Cape barrier beaches and the National Seashore, “Most people who visit the Cape do not realize just how much of a nature destination it truly is, but once they are here and if they are paying attention, they will notice just how many things are going on here that are uniquely natural–thanks to the conservation efforts that have been taking place over the last fifty years.” Residents and tourists alike can witness the plethora of nature tours that are offered on the Cape, including whale watches, great white shark tours, seal tours, bird watching excursions and more. Ecotourism is a growing business for Cape Cod operators even in the spring and fall shoulder seasons.
John notes, “We really have two different times of year here in terms of what we can capture.” From late spring to late fall, the couple is able to pack up their boat to spend time shooting on the water or in the estuaries. Mid-November to late April or early May, the couple experiences more adventures on foot by visiting some of the natural spaces you can access from land and hike around. “We have our favorite places we like to go at certain times of year and can expect to see certain things.” John explains, “Cape Cod is an important refueling point where a lot of species migrate through–particularly birds, fish and marine mammals. In the fall there are birds returning from the Arctic and passing through on their way to the south. In the spring it’s the other way around; the birds are coming from the south, sometimes as far away as South America, and they make their stop on Cape Cod, traveling to the same stopping spots year after year.” The couple has a particular fondness for shorebirds, but as John notes, “You never know what you are going to discover.”
Over the years John and Pam have remained dedicated to spreading the word on the importance of conservation efforts to protect critical habitats and species. To focus their efforts, in 2011 the couple co-founded “The Common Flat Project,” a philanthropic project through which to donate their time and resources to conservation efforts that are active on and off Cape Cod. “The Common Flat is a special tidal area that has existed for thousands of years off the ‘elbow’ of Cape Cod,” explains John. “This area is part of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge where humans have been harvesting clams and fishing for thousands of years, while doing that work sustainably.” He continues, “This sandbar is a crucial habitat for marine mammals, migrating birds, shellfish, crustaceans and fin fish, so it is a beautiful example of how humans and the natural world can live side by side and work well together.” John describes the Common Flat Project as an “umbrella” to their work, to emphasize the importance of biodiversity and how humans can play a roll in the natural world as long as they do it while also respecting nature.
The couple supports conservation-based organizations such as the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) in Chatham, the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown (CCS) and the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuaries in Wellfleet Bay and Long Pasture among other Cape based nonprofits. Of note, John a licensed Captain, has been skippering the white shark research vessel here on the Cape in support of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s efforts to bring awareness to the species. “I do that work as a volunteer along with my wife Pam,” shares John. “We are on the water a lot and have done a great deal of work enabling the research through tagging, photographing, and supporting ecotourism for the past eight seasons.”
The couple has, for many years, been fascinated with white sharks and has captured jaw-dropping images of the species. “We started traveling all over the world just to see them and photograph them, even before they became prevalent in Cape waters.” He continues, “Pam and I are very active in this work–it is our passion. And through our photography we hope to pass the word of the importance of protecting these magnificent creatures and the natural world, especially here on Cape Cod.”
To see more from John & Pamela King visit wildcapecod.com.
Christina Galt is the digital coordinator and editorial assistant at Cape Cod Life Publications.