Sara Montour Lewis — Seattle Commercial Children's Lifestyle + Wildlife Conservation Photographer
SML00125.jpg

Field Notes

These field notes are a little peak behind the scenes of personal adventures, creation of stock imagery, location scouting, etc.

For the latest commercial, editorial + client work, head on over to the NEWS page.

Our Urban Wilderness

Whenever I'm feeling completely overwhelmed I know that it's time to put my computer away, grab my camera and connect with nature. It always amazes me what I can find in a short period of time when I'm not distracted and I can just focus on what's around. 

Inevitably, every time I post an image on instagram + facebook of the wildlife I find on these walks, someone will say something along the lines of "where did you find that?!" or "I wish I lived closer to 'XYZ' so I could see something that cool!" and I always have to laugh because 90% of the time I was just on a quick walk in the middle of the city and stumbled upon some crazy creature. I'm guilty of it, too, though. If I see a photo of a walrus or a narwhal I want to hop a plane to the arctic immediately, if not sooner. I know, though, that there are a million cool creatures within a few miles of us all right this second and all we really have to do to see them is slow down, open our eyes and be patient. This year alone I know I've seen dozens + dozens of animals that I've never seen before.

The second reason I wanted to do this project is because there seems to be this mental box that we put on wildlife where we think that humans exist in "THE CITY" and wildlife exists in "THE WILD", as if we all live in a zoo together and there are barriers between our habitats. (All you have to do is live in an area where bears or coyotes have wandered into residential neighborhoods to realize how strongly people believe this.) The fact, though, is that we're all coexisting and our paths cross far more often than we all realize. I think this can happen, peacefully, if we're all just a little more aware and if we don't turn into alarmists every time we see something that we're sure belongs in "THE WILD".  

In the spirit of that I'm excited to start a new little series here called Our Urban Wilderness to showcase some of the incredible creatures that I see on a daily basis, right in the middle of the city. (Sidebar: my husband is pretty upset that I decided not to go with his suggested title "Owl Show You The Way". Admittedly, it's pretty hard for me to pass up a good pun...)

This particular walk was just north of Seattle and I spent most of my time mesmerized by the gigantic moon snail. If you happened to be following along with my instagram stories yesterday you saw that I was so focused on the snail that I had to walk back to shore in knee-deep water because the tide came in. Whoops!

(PSA: Scroll down to the very end for a huge coupon code on prints!)

Seattle Wildlife Photographer

You're super stoked that I started this series off with a sea gull, right! ;) 

To be fair, though, these guys are great alarm bells for other wildlife. They all started squawking and taking off at the same time, so I was pretty sure that something else had suddenly appeared. I looked up and saw that an Osprey was flying above them, looking for fish in the Sound.

Osprey flying above the Puget Sound
Osprey diving for a fish in the Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington
Osprey with a flounder on the shores of the Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington
Osprey with a flounder on the shores of the Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington
Belted Kingfisher flying above the Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington
Belted Kingfisher flying above the Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington

This guy (or gal) above + below, the Belted Kingfisher, is one of my favorites. They're so fast that by the time you see them they're usually already gone.

Belted Kingfisher flying above the Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington
Rock Crab digging in the sand on the shores of the Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington
Seattle Wildlife Photographer
Sea Star on the beach in Seattle, Washington
Sea Star in a tide pool on the beach in Seattle, Washington

I have a pretty terrible underwater point + shoot camera that I still take with me because I like the challenge of trying to get something useable out of it. I've also had 3 lifeproof cases fail on me and destroy my iPhones, so I bought it as an alternative. I kind of love the dreamy, imperfect quality of the images. It reminds me of an old film camera. 

Sea Star in a tide pool in Seattle, Washington
Hermit Crab in a tide pool in Seattle, Washington

This Moon Snail is what made me stop, and eventually caused me to be stranded me on a sandbar. ha. These guys make egg collars that I find on the beach all the time, but this is actually the first live snail I've ever seen and it was a monster. 

Moon Snail digging in the sand on a beach in Seattle, Washington
Moon Snail digging in the sand on a beach in Seattle, Washington
Moon Snail digging in the sand on a beach in Seattle, Washington
Moon Snail digging in the sand on a beach in Seattle, Washington
Moon Snail digging in the sand on a beach in Seattle, Washington
Moon Snail digging in the sand on a beach in Seattle, Washington
Moon Snail digging in the sand on a beach in Seattle, Washington
Moon Snail digging in the sand on a beach in Seattle, Washington
IMG_3187.JPG

I wanted to get a quick video of the Moon Snail moving across the sand, but the tide was coming in and I didn't have a tripod, so I pulled out a McGyver move of balancing my camera on a seashell to protect it from the water.

I generally try not to disturb wildlife and almost never actually pick anything up or move it, but I was so fascinated and amazed at how huge this moon snail was that I couldn't help but investigate a little closer. 

Seattle, Washington Wildlife Photography

And that's the end of that quick adventure! What you don't get to see is me wading back to my car like a fool that didn't read the tide tables!

These images, along with so many others, are available to be licensed commercially, or purchased as prints, by heading to my archive, here. To celebrate the launch of this fun project just enter the coupon code "OURURBANWILDERNESS" to get 30% off for the next week!

(I'm constantly updating my archive, so if you've seen something on social media that you can't find in the gallery, or if you're looking for something specific feel free to reach out and I'd be happy to help!)