Eve Turek says it all began with a Golden Book of Birds, a Polaroid camera and a backyard bird feeder. Even when she was ten years old, she trained her lens on animals: pets, birds, animals at the zoo. When she goes through those old pictures now, few are of much anything else. “From the very beginning,” she says, “All those photographs were of birds or critters. As a naturalist, there is still part of that young child in me that wants to connect with those birds and critters.”
In “Outer Banks Through the Seasons,” on display at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island through March, Eve continues to cherish and find fascination in the wildlife around her with a photo collection that also celebrates the seasonal changes - and the seasonal visitors - the Outer Banks sees every year.
Tundra swan, snow geese, and other migratory birds gather over the winter. Spring heralds the return of osprey, wild foals at Carova exploring the waterline, and young foxes exploring the territory around their dens. In the summer, colonies of brown pelicans nest, sea turtles hatch, and masses of dragonflies pass through on their migratory journey. Then, as summer fades into fall, wild horses grow shaggy coats and osprey fly south, wild sea oats turn golden and the cycle begins again.
“I have come to treasure the natural rhythms that signal the change of seasons,” Eve says. “Each season offers its natural gifts that many of our visitors never see at all.”
Eve moved to the Outer Banks in 1976, working in community journalism and later for Dare County, before returning to school to earn a master’s degree in Environmental Education. It was while volunteering for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a writer and photographer that she reengaged her love of photography and the natural world. After Eve and her husband Pete bought Yellowhouse Gallery in Nags Head in 2005, she was able to focus on photography even more.
Her photographs emphasize the close proximity we share with wildlife. Destinations like Pea Island, Lake Mattamuskeet, and the Alligator River serve as the backdrop for her images, reminding us that these seasonal visitors are often right at our doorstep or roadside. For many of the encounters portrayed in “Outer Banks Through the Seasons,” Eve was barely, if at all, off the beaten path – although her style of photography does require some patience.
“Photography has become a spiritual path as well. It’s like a walking meditation,” she says, saying she always makes a point to invite her surroundings in, asking them to be part of the picture. She jettisons some traditional terms like “capture” and “taking a picture,” that imply possession, favoring instead those like “focus” and “changing perspective.”
“I’m always trying to communicate that I’m trying to honor this, and awaken a spark and sense of connection that all of this lives here,” she says. “When I am photographing, I am very much in the moment. I’m not planning my next day or next year. It’s just me and this light and this bird. There’s something incredibly serene about it.”
Photographer Eve Turek is the owner of Yellowhouse Gallery in Nags Head and the SeaDragon Gallery in Duck. “Outer Banks Through the Seasons” will be on view at NCARI’s Nautilus Gallery through the end of March, 2017.