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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Photographs of American Nature

Selections from The Strange Lives of Familiar Insects


At the age of nine, Edwin Teale declared himself a naturalist. Nevertheless, his formal education, at Earlham College (B.A., 1922) and Columbia University (M.A., 1926), was in English literature. It was not until about 1930 that Teale seriously incorporated photography into his investigations in natural history. His photographic studies of insects resulted in the publication in 1937 of his first nature book, Grassroot Jungles. He published thirty more books over his lifetime, all illustrated with his own photographs. His best work is collected in Photographs of American Nature (1972).

Teale was a pioneer in many aspects of nature photography. He is believed, for example, to be the first photographer to chill live insects to render them immobile for the camera.

"The best in nature photography records both the object and its setting. It arrests, in its normal surroundings, some form of life, portraying it in a characteristic moment of its existence. Such pictures possess emotional as well as intellectual impact."