Voyageur and Steve Maslowski have launched the completion phase for the documentary Wildlife Photographer: The Life of Karl Maslowski. The public television documentary examines the remarkable career of a Cincinnati man who helped introduce Americans to the wonders of the natural world through his pioneering work as a wildlife photographer and filmmaker. Wildlife Photographer: The Life of Karl Maslowski is a co-production of Voyageur Media Group, Inc, and filmmaker Steve Maslowski. The production team has raised a total of $38,150 to produce and distribute the project in 2021.

Wildlife Photographer: The Life of Karl Maslowski presents the life and legacies of Karl Maslowski (1913-2006), an acclaimed wildlife photographer, filmmaker, writer and conservationist. Maslowski contributed thousands of photographs to books, calendars and magazines, including National Wildlife, Time and Life. He was also a pioneer in nature filmmaking, contributing to some of the first wildlife films of Disney, National Audubon Society and National Geographic.  Maslowski wrote over 2,500 weekly nature columns for The Cincinnati Enquirer, and hundreds of articles for national publications. And, as a passionate conservationist, he helped establish the Cincinnati Nature Center, and Oxbow, Inc. Project Director, Steve Maslowski, a son of Karl Maslowski, has completed most of the archival research and a working script. His production team will launch field production this spring at key sites. “Plans are underway for a May visit to Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee, an enchanting cypress swamp in the 1930’s that played a large role in Karl Maslowski’s early days with a camera.”

Wildlife Photographer: The Life of Karl Maslowski will be provided to regional public television stations for broadcast and streaming. The documentary also features a companion website and educational materials designed for on-line and classroom use. Wildlife Photographer: The Life of Karl Maslowski is the second episode in Voyageur’s “Great Naturalists” series. The first episode, A Force for Nature Lucy Braun, co-produced with Meg Hanrahan, earned critical acclaim from distributed to national public television stations in 2019. Photo: Karl Maslowski carries a photo blind into Reelfoot Lake cypress swamp, 1937. Courtesy, Maslowski Family.

Project Documents

Karl Maslowski fact sheet (pdf)

Karl Maslowski completion media release (pdf)

Karl Maslowski fundraising campaign form (pdf)

Project Support

This documentary is made possible with major support from…

 

 

 

 

And, additional support from Helen Rowe-Drake, Louise Head, Oliver Family Foundation, Pete Griffin, Alpaugh Foundation, DeVere and Patricia Burt, Kathryn Neuman and the Adams County Travel & Visitors Bureau.

Documentary trailer

Watch a 3:00 minute trailer for Wildlife Photographer: The Life of Karl Maslowski.

Director/writer:  Steve Maslowski
Film and images by:  Karl Maslowski, Tom Uhlman
Music:  Frank Proto
Narrator:  Michael Grayson

Facebook page

Join the project’s Facebook page for news, reports from the field, and information about how you may contribute to this educational documentary.

 

Karl Maslowski Biography

Karl Maslowski was forced to leave high school and work upon the death of his father, an immigrant gardener.  Nonetheless in spare time from his job, Maslowski quickly mastered the challenges of stalking wildlife and early photography and using an $8 still camera and a borrowed movie camera.  His earliest still images were shown as lantern slides, but he soon started selling black/white prints to magazines, which clamored for photographs because of new printing methods.  In 1937 Maslowski persuaded The Cincinnati Enquirer to carry his weekly nature column.  Shortly thereafter he began supporting his family as a full-time freelance writer, photographer, and cinematographer by covering nature around Cincinnati and across the continent in close-up detail.  In WWII Maslowski served as a combat cameraman in Italy under Major William Wyler, an Oscar-winning Hollywood director (The Best Days of Our lives, Ben-Hur, Funny Girl).  At the front, Maslowski observed, “Those big German shells come over with a swish like a jilted blonde’s skirt. Ours sounded just as mad when they went back the other way.” Training from Wyler and the Army Air Corps Combat Camera Unit proved invaluable after the war. Photo: Karl Maslowski with film camera during WWII, 1944. Courtesy, Maslowski Family.

Returning home, Maslowski jumped back into wildlife photography. He not only sold wildlife photos and articles to scores of publications, including Time and Life magazines, he began producing outdoor documentaries for clients.  In subsequent decades he made dozens of them for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Standard Oil of Ohio, and others. Simultaneously, Maslowski produced and narrated nature films for the popular lecture series of the National Audubon Society and National Geographic. He even contributed to the “True-Life Adventure” series – Walt Disney’s first wildlife films. Maslowski frequently claimed he lived “the abundant life.” The wealth he found resided in the forests, the waterways, and the wildlife around him.  Maslowski’s lifetime devotion to the outdoors and conservation was recognized by many, including the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Photo: Karl Maslowski (center) with Walt Disney (standing) and Roy Disney (seated), circa 1949. Courtesy, Maslowski Family.

 

Project Participants

Wildlife Photographer: The Life of Karl Maslowski is a collaborative project among production professionals, scholars, educators, archives, organizations and patrons.  Here are some of the people helping us tell this story.

Production Team

Thomas Law (Project Administrator). Tom Law is the President of Voyageur Media Group, Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization he co-founded in 1998. Law has over 36 years of experience as a director, producer and writer in television, radio and print, including seven years in management at WCET-TV48/Cincinnati. He produced such media projects as Searching for the Great Hopewell Road, The Kentucky Archaeology & Heritage Series, and the book Ohio Archaeology: An Illustrated Chronicle of Ohio’s Ancient American Indian Cultures.  Law was Associate Producer for A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun, the first episode in Voyageur’s “Great Naturalists” series. Law graduated from Miami University with a BS in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Political Science.

Steve Maslowski (Project Director). Steve Maslowski, a son of Karl Maslowski, has produced over 75 educational videos distributed by Discovery Communications/Education on nature, geology, the solar system and other science topics. His additional works include documentaries for the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Hamilton County Park District (Great Parks); Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District; and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife.  As a cameraman, Steve has filmed for “Marty Stouffer’s Wild America” (PBS); “Birdwatch” (PBS), “National Geographic Explorer”, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Steve graduated from Brown University and is member of Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Parker Bauer (Assistant Writer/Editor). Parker Bauer has served as a writer and editor for documentaries distributed by National Geographic, Discovery, and the National Park Service. He has also worked as writer/editor on several commercial programs, including “One More Cast with Shaw Grigsby” (11 seasons); and scriptwriter for “Bigmouth” narrated by Rod Sterling. Bauer, past president of Outdoor Writers, was a long-time field companion of Karl Maslowski.

Frank Proto (Music). Frank Proto plays double bass for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Proto has also served as a composer for Eddie Daniels (clarinet), Cleo Laine (singer), Doc Severinsen (trumpet), Francois Rabbath (double bass), and new arrangements for such works as “A Carmen Fantasy,” played by orchestras worldwide.

Emily Morgan (Educational Materials). Emily Morgan will help develop the project’s educational materials, which will be based on Ohio’s Academic Standards. Ms. Morgan is the co-founder of Picture-Perfect Science, which designs award-winning lessons to help teachers integrate science and reading into classroom education. Morgan holds a Master of Science In Education from the University of Dayton, and a BA in Science in Education from Wright State University.

Project Advisors

DeVere Burt, Artist, and Director Emeritus, Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science.

Stanley Corkin, PhD, Niehoff Professor of Film and Media, University of Cincinnati.

Stan Hedeen, PhD, Author and Professor Emeritus, Ecology, Xavier University

Bill Hopple, President, Board of Directors, Cardinal Land Trust, former Executive Director, Cincinnati Nature Center.

David Stradling, PhD, Zane L. Miller Professor of Urban History, University of Cincinnati.

John Tallmadge, PhD, Author/essayist on nature and culture, and former Professor at Yale, University of Utah, Carlton College, Dartmouth and the Union Institute.

Project Interviewees

The production team will interview the project advisors, many who knew or worked with Karl Maslowski, as well as several other scholars in the fields of history, photojournalism and the natural sciences.

Susan McIlhiney, photo editor of Ranger Ricks’ Nature Magazine.

Pete Maslowski, son of Karl Maslowski, emeritus professor of History, University of Nebraska.

George Harrison, author of outdoor books and articles, past president of Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Project Evaluators

Steven M. Sullivan, Director, Hefner Museum, Department of Biology, Miami University

Melissa Godoy, Owner, Cinema Sol, Ltd., Cincinnati, Ohio.