Artists' Statements

Artist’s statement by Cindy Walpole

We photograph in Costa Rica because it is the country where I grew up and where my family and many of my friends still live. First hand knowledge of the geography and available resources help us solve the logistical puzzles that traveling in the humid tropics with 150 pounds of equipment can entail.

There are about 50 different species of hummingbirds in the varied micro climates of our small mountainous country. They range from the endemic and endangered Mangrove Hummingbird found in the Pacific lowlands, to the rainbow-colored Fiery-throated at 11,000 feet. By comparison in the US, east of the Rocky Mountains, only one species, the Ruby-throated, is generally seen. 

Once we have set up our outdoor studio, my itchy trigger finger, often wrapped in a band-aid, gets to work. I take between 5,000-20,000 shots in a single day, of which a handful are destined for consideration as the foundation for an artwork. This marks the beginning of a process of careful processing and trial and error until I can see on my computer screen what my mind’s eye saw on location. Only then will I finally fire up one of our printers and get to see the first proof of a finished image.


Artist’s Statement by Chuck Fritsch

Hummingbirds of Costa Rica are the basis of an ongoing joint project with my wife Cindy. The numerous logistic and technical challenges have made it particularly exciting for us but the special reward is in the power of the resulting images.  Hummingbirds everywhere face threats due to loss of habitat. Costa Rica already has several species that only exist stuffed in a museum. Our goal for the project is to enhance awareness both internationally and within Costa Rica of these flying treasures by means of hummingbird based artwork that reveals their extraordinary beauty. We hope to stimulate the political will and gather the international support that will ensure a bright hummingbird future.

It takes a combination of different skills and capabilities to produce this unique artwork. We have a detailed knowledge of the geography in addition to a large personal network throughout the country, together with a local place to stay that also stores a lot of our equipment. We utilize both a rough terrain SUV and light planes to get to the diverse locations we have uncovered. The development of the lighting system took months and continues to improve with each use. A custom software/hardware system catalogs, processes and archives the hundreds of thousand images that we have collected. We print all our images ourselves. Color management systems ensure that the colors shown in our prints are as close to real life as current equipment permits and are constantly upgrading our gear as technology progresses. We are in a state of hummingbird addiction. It seems that the hummingbirds themselves have chosen us to champion their cause.


Artist’s Statement by Julio Peña

Julio Peña has a passion for photography that was re-ignited when his sister Cindy asked him to work with her and her husband Chuck on the project of photographing the hummingbirds of his native Costa Rica. His intimate knowledge of the country and his willingness to experiment with photography equipment under challenging circumstances while maintaining a witty sense of humor keeps the rest of our team sane.