Arts and Entertainment

Reflection and activism through photography

Photographer and conservationist Paul Bannick strives to let the birds tell the story of the importance of protecting their habitats in “The Owl and the Woodpecker.”  - Courtesy photo/Paul Bannick
Photographer and conservationist Paul Bannick strives to let the birds tell the story of the importance of protecting their habitats in “The Owl and the Woodpecker.”
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Paul Bannick

Northwest icons — the owl, the woodpecker and the Washington State Ferry — inhabit Eagle Harbor Books through two new photographers’ books this week.

• “The Owl and the Woodpecker: Encounters with North America’s most iconic birds” by photographer, conservationist Paul Bannick, Mountaineers Books.

Photographer Paul Bannick, also one of the directors of the eco-group Conservation Northwest, developed a love for photography at a young age, through nature.

Growing up in pre-boom Bellevue, Bannick was so intrigued by the wildlife and nature in his own backyard that he began to study it.

Soon thereafter, however, he started seeing it disappear as urban development made way for condos and high-rises and the like.

“I started noticing how the biodiversity was decreasing,” Bannick said. “Well to me, it wasn’t biodiversity at that point, but all these critters that I’d gotten to know and study were suddenly disappearing.”

That’s when he turned to the camera, to capture portraits of those critters before they were gone. Over the course of his life, the camera stayed with him and eventually morphed into an agent of activism.

After working for years in computer software, when he left the field Bannick came back to the camera, got involved with Conservation Northwest and began to expand upon what he’d begun as a kid.

“I realized the power of the camera to make a difference and to create a sense of empathy for people,” he said.

And from that ideal, the idea for this, his first book was born.

“Choosing these species gave me a great vehicle to talk about the American habitat and finding the characteristics that we need to preserve,” he said. “And not to do it in a preachy sort of way, but instead let the birds tell the story.”

Bannick will present “The Owl and The Woodpecker” along with a slideshow and book signing at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Eagle Harbor Books, 157 Winslow. Info:,

• “Crossings: On the Ferries of the Puget Sound” by island photojournalist Michael Diehl, self-published.

At first glance, this book seems like a cheeky kind of tourist gift trap — the kind of book you’d see an old man stop his wife for, as they pass it on some random shelf, to say, “Hey, we rode the ferries, let’s buy this $30 book as a token.”

While it is, undoubtedly, a fine assemblage of coffee table reading and a nice collection of eye candy to skim through, Island photojournalist Michael Diehl’s “Crossings” has the potential to be much more.

It all depends on the reader’s point of view and his/her purpose for picking up the book.

“This is an essay about ferries/and the patterns of their passages/in the ephemeral light on Puget Sound,” the book’s informatively poetic narration begins.

A signature Seattle experience for visitors and a lifeline for everyday commuters, the Washington State Ferries system is one of the largest in the world. And while the boats are made of steel, the system, as a whole, is somewhat of a living, breathing organism.

That organism is what Diehl has documented and reflected upon through stunning photography in this self-published collection of photo essays. If you look deep enough, it’s more than simply a collection of pretty pictures, it’s a comprehensive, full-color story about crossing the Puget Sound.

It examines ferries as icons and images, as a way of life and as this amazing, visceral experience that is readily available to anyone, for now.

Diehl will present “Crossings” with a slideshow and book signing at 3 p.m. Nov. 16 at Eagle Harbor Books, 157 Winslow Way on Bainbridge. Info: or call the store at (206) 842-5332.

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