As a professional wildlife photographer with 25 years experience under her belt, Susan Kehoe dispels the myth that black bears are aggressive and snarling animals. When she sees photos in newspapers and magazines that portray black bears as hostile creatures, she knows that these photos do not capture the true essence of black bears. Kehoe photographs black bears as gentle and intelligent animals that they truly are.
“I take a picture of a black bear the way I see it,” Kehoe said. “I just capture what a black bear is and the characteristics I like to see in these animals.”
At first, Kehoe was hesitant to photograph black bears, but the love that she has for these animals eradicated her fears. She frequently studies black bears in the woods of Sussex County where she has lived for 30 years. Her late husband also shared her love of black bears. Through her field work, she has discovered that black bears are harmless animals.
“I live near a state park and followed a black bear with her cubs,” she said. “The black bear got so use to me that she completely ignored me and continued to play naturally with her cubs.”
Through her photography, Kehoe has already helped educate others about the true nature of black bears. She has given many interviews about black bears and has had many articles published about her positive experiences with these fascinating creatures. She especially remembers one interview with Dr. Lynn Rogers, a renowned biologist at the North American Center.
“At the North American Center, Dr. Lynn Rogers has a tape that shows me chasing a black bear away from my house,” she said. “Dr. Rogers uses this video to study the behavior of black bears and to show people that they should not be afraid of them.”
The passion that Kehoe has for black bears is evident in her photographs. The advice that she gives all of us is to show fervor when we take snapshots of family, friends and other subjects that we enjoy. In order to generate public interest in our photos, she believes our snapshots should be unique in order to catch someone’s eye. Not only does Kehoe photograph black bears, she also takes photos of harbor seals, chipmunks and woodpeckers. Of all the wildlife that she photographs, black bears are her favorite.
In the future, Kehoe plans to write a nonfiction children’s book, which will include some of her fascinating pictures of black bears, to educate future generations about these bears. She wants to pass on her interest and love of black bears to youngsters hoping that these mystical creatures will roam freely in the wilderness for many years to come.