Reg Grundy is a key figure in the history of television, known in his native Australia and around the world for his successes as a producer and entrepreneur. Fewer are familiar with Grundy’s photographic talents, which were first recognized and emboldened by his friend, legendary celebrity photographer, Douglas Kirkland. Culled from more than four decades of archived photographs, Mother and Child: Wildlife Photography (Glitterati Incorporated) is a breathtaking collection of photographs on the most universal of topics—the enduring bond between mothers and their offspring.
These evocative photographs take us from the red soil of the Arabian Peninsula to the snowy, polar-bear inhabited corners of the Arctic, offering glimpses of maternal relationships across boundaries of nations and species. Portraits of mothers as they feed, nurture, teach, and play with their young serve as a poignant reminder that all animals live rich emotional and social lives, sharing so much with their human counterparts. This memorable perspective on wildlife, by a man whose vision and determination allow him to thrive at any endeavor he chooses, is a tribute to life and love in its purest form: the relationship between Mother and Child.
As Grundy writes in the introduction to the book, “Photographing animals is my delight. There is little doubt that I am happiest out in the wild with my wife at my side and a camera in my hand. I have spent my entire life in pictures and sound, bringing images to viewers one way or another, beginning as a young man in Australia on radio, mainly calling boxing matches and rugby league football; then for four decades as a producer, making television programs around the world; and now, my final tribute—as a recorder of the creatures of the wild. This book is a dedication to the resilient animal mothers of this planet and their amazing offspring.
“In my autobiography I tell of my first meeting with Douglas Kirkland, one of the world’s stellar and most celebrated photographers, my photographic mentor and dear friend. It was over 20 years ago in Los Angeles that he was taking pictures of my wife, Joy Chambers, for a story in an Australian magazine after the publication of her second book, My Zulu, Myself. I had always been interested in photography, had always owned a camera, and had always been drawn to photographing animals.
“That day Joy proudly told Douglas of my interest in photography, and that I was a ‘great’ wildlife photographer. It was towards the end of that session that Douglas turned to me and said, ‘Why don't you drop by our house and bring some of your slides? I’d like to see them.’
“I could see he meant what he was saying. However, I am not someone who seizes upon invitations like that. I procrastinated for many months, yet Douglas’s suggestion remained with me. Finally I made contact and went to visit him in his house in the Hollywood Hills. I carried my bundle of slides along and tentatively began to show them to him.
“When Douglas told me that he agreed with my wife’s opinion I found it hard to reply. I was amazed and delighted. Such an accolade coming from the already proven ‘great’ photographer Douglas Kirkland gave me the self-belief I needed to persevere. Yet it was not until 1995, when we sold our television production company, Grundy Worldwide, that I at last found enough time to devote to my avocation, which has become my passion. Since then I have visited every continent, pursuing this consuming need I have for getting the right shot.
“The ‘right shot’ is often hard to find. I have searched for it in the icy climes of lonely beaches down gloomy, steep cliffs near Dunedin in the South Island of New Zealand, where the beautiful, endangered, yellow-eyed penguin lives and breeds on the shore. In contrast I have stood in the constant blanket of heat and dust in Ranthambore, India, where we sought and recorded the reclusive tiger. As every wildlife photographer knows, you have to cover tens of thousands of miles to find these amazing creatures in their natural habitats—I feel blessed to have been fortunate enough to be able to do this.
“We’ve been soaked to the skin in the mother of all storms in the Kalahari Desert with lightning striking nearby, seeking the right shots of a lioness and her cub. Alternatively we’ve been freezing on a snow buggy on the shores of Hudson Bay in Canada waiting for the mother polar bear to appear with her offspring and cross the wide lake of ice in front of us. I always like to keep my fingers free to click the shutter, so I cut the tops from the index and center fingers of my gloves. This can be a bad idea when the outside temperature is 25 degrees below.
“There is a wonderful exhilaration in suddenly coming upon grizzly bears or black bears wading towards you in the sparkling streams of Alaska, or waking up on the South African veldt before sunrise to leap into a four-wheel-drive vehicle and slide in behind an 800-millimeter lens. To trundle along as dawn breaks above the wide green expanse: there is the high excitement inside as the search begins. We ask ourselves, What will we find out here today? In the foliage roam the animals in their natural world. I am here to capture a moment when a creature will do something special and I will record that finite second and share it.
“Many days have passed in that way. As night begins to fall it is humbling to hear the awesome, continuous roar of a male lion: a mighty sound at dusk that holds you spellbound.; the call that represents nature at its most raw. When we return to camp through trees dripping with gray monkeys we view on our computers the photographs from the day’s work. We study the pictures with a sense of accomplishment—or disappointment, depending on what we find. Tomorrow the pursuit of the ‘right shot’ will continue.
“This book is the culmination of many years of work. I had harbored the idea of a series of animal mother and child pictures for a long time. It became more of a focus after my first book, The Wildlife of Reg Grundy, was published. I believe the thought first came to me on a raft in the Chobe River in Botswana, while I was photographing elephants drinking. I was impressed by the way the mature animals made room for the young to drink, and the obvious attention the mother elephants gave to their children. One of the baby elephants was possibly only days old. Its trunk behaved more like a rubber hose; it appeared to have no control over it. The mother helped the baby to drink, and the filial consideration and love I witnessed was so impressive. The protective instinct that a mother has for its child is timeless—whether it is a human mother or an animal mother. The relationship is unique. That moment was the start of this book of photographs. My gratitude goes to my publisher for giving me that chance to reveal my mother and child images.
“The other question I get asked regularly is, Which is your favorite animal? I guess I don’t have one. They are all magnificent in their own way, each unique, and many of them have given me endless hours of pleasure. I do have a favorite bird, however: the glorious longtail of Bermuda, which I have been photographing consistently for 30 years. It is a magical miracle of flight, sweeping majestically in the sky with its pristine white body and its long tail of black and white feathers gliding behind. They nest in the cliffs on our property and we even name the hatchlings. Joy says that if I come back to earth I’ll be a longtail. I wouldn’t mind that a bit.
“I do hope you enjoy this book, which has been an honor and a labor of love for me. I like to think that my work is big and bold, capturing the essence of the animals—their spirit. I hope the photographs in this book live up to my belief.”