Two Columbia photographers hear the call of the wild in exhibit at Artists' Gallery

"Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!"

That line from "The Wizard of Oz" may have been a fearful refrain, but it also captures some of the awe and wonder humans share when regarding beasts in the wild or at a zoo.


That sense of wonder is apparent in the September exhibit at Columbia's Artists' Gallery called "At the Zoo/In the Wild," which features the photography of Carl Segal, M.D., and Jerry Weinstein. Both are Columbia residents and member artists of the gallery.

Weinstein, a retired economist who has lived in Columbia since 1973, is currently a full-time photographer and has a business called NatureGraphics.

"I've had the photography bug for a long time," he said, adding it started in childhood when he got a Brownie Hawkeye box camera — "one of those little plastic things."

When age 12, he took some shots at the Brooklyn Zoo and he's been snapping the shutter at nature ever since, especially at zoo animals.

"The cardinal rule is that I don't photograph anything that can talk back to me," he said. "I am especially fascinated by the big cats."

He said he had a chance to see big cats in their natural habitat in January during an East African safari. Many photos in the exhibit will be from that safari, he said.

Segal, a psychiatrist, lives and works in Columbia. He started out shooting photos at the Philadelphia Zoo as a boy and joined the Philadelphia Zoological Society of Philadelphia.

Since 1987, he has considered photographing zoo animals a second career. He estimates he has visited 200 zoos in the Unites States, Canada and Europe.

"I've been interested in zoos since I was 10. I was interested in animals, and zoos were where you could find animals," he said.

"I love to photograph big cats and primates," he said. "Big cats are very photogenic. The great apes — I love the expressions on their faces."

The psychiatrist said animals have things to teach humans.

"Viewing so many groups of primates, and other animals, over the years has helped give me a better understanding of human behavior, especially when thinking about early developmental stages, family dynamics, group dynamics and competitive, status-seeking behaviors," Segal said.

The exhibit, running Sept. 1-26, will feature an opening reception and guest speaker, Robert Ramin, CEO of the Washington Animal Rescue League, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 5.

Ramin, who also worked for the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., will lead a discussion about the state and roles of modern zoos and how developments at zoos relate to preservation efforts in today's shrinking wild areas.


The Artists' Gallery, 10227 Wincopin Circle, Columbia, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is closed on Sunday. For more information, call 410-740-8249 or go to http://www.artistsgallerycolumbia.com.