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  • Writer's pictureDes Lewis

A Wild Conversation with Florida Photographer Kirsten Hines

Kirsten Hines discusses images featured in her new book ‘Wild Florida: An Animal Odyssey’ with Audubon Florida.

Kirsten Hines (left) discusses her new book at Midtown Reader on Thursday, Jan. 18.

From a young age, Kirsten Hines documented the natural world around her.

“When I was a little kid, everybody else was saying, ‘I want to be a policeman, I want to be a fireman,’ and you know at that age, I was saying I want to be an entomologist,” she said. 

Tallahassee’s independent bookstore Midtown Reader hosted Hines for a conversation with Audubon Florida on Thursday, Jan. 18 for an audience of about 35 people. Hines is a Florida-based writer, nature photographer, biologist, and environmental educator. She recounted the stories behind the images in her new book Wild Florida: An Animal Odyssey.

Hines’ book is a comprehensive guide to Florida wildlife using photos and personal essays to highlight Florida as a biodiversity hotspot. 

“I really wanted it to be a snapshot of the wildlife and conservation situation in Florida right now. Because it's an ever-changing situation, right?” she said. “The problem nowadays is it's evolving very, very quickly. But I wanted to capture what we had here and now because I'm acknowledging that it probably will continue to change.”

After spending three years traveling Florida to develop the book, Hines had three months till deadline. She sat down and rewrote the whole manuscript with essays and anecdotes of the images she’d taken. She wanted the book to feel accessible, not like an academic report. 

“I didn't want it to just be full of facts that were just written as facts,” Hines said. “The best way to connect with people is to take them in the field with me and let them experience it through my eyes as I’ve experienced it for the first time.” 

Hines studied biology at Earlham College in Indiana and later attended graduate school in Miami to concentrate on herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians.  Despite the academic path, she said she does not consider herself a scientist. She said she hopes that this book will inspire humans to live in harmony with the nature around them. 

“I truly think Florida's future is all about coexistence. We are not going to stop people from being here. People are already coming, they're gonna keep coming. But we need to be really smart about our development,” she said.


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