By Nella Letizia, WSU Libraries
PULLMAN, Wash. – Not much is different about the two side-by-side photographs of fourth-year Washington State University veterinary student Seth Bynum. He’s seated in the back of the same Chevy Tahoe, wearing a short-sleeved shirt, shorts, sandals and long hair, holding up a hand-lettered sign with the words “Montana or Bust.”
But 14 years and 200,000 odometer miles separate the images, the first taken in 2001 in North Carolina and the second in 2015 in Washington. Bynum spent most of that time and distance exploring the outdoors and photographing wildlife at each stop.
The best photographs from his 14-year road trip will be on display through May in the WSU Animal Health Library, Wegner Hall 170. An opening reception is planned 4:30-6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, in the library.
The twice-yearly Art in the Library exhibit features animal-themed works, typically from artists with a connection to the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. For more information, visit http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/news/art.
From newspapers to vet school
After graduating in political science from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bynum left his home state and headed for Montana in 2001 to work as a grant writer for a legal-services organization. The journey prompted the first of his two self-portraits.
“The job was terrible, but the fly fishing was great,” he said.
In his downtime, he taught himself digital photography, a skill he put to use later at the Glasgow (Mont.) Courier and the Federal Way News in Washington.
In 2009, Bynum acquired and trained River, a German short-hair puppy, for bird hunting. As the hunting dog grew, so did Bynum’s interest in vet school. Three years later, he started veterinary training at WSU, with hopes of becoming board-certified as a theriogenologist in canine reproduction.
“I realized my days in journalism were numbered,” he said. “So I thought I needed a career where I’ll be learning for the rest of my life. And veterinarian came up.”
‘Hunting with a camera’
Since coming to the Palouse, he has expanded his outdoor photography, what he dubs “hunting with a camera.” Migratory birds are a favorite.
“Hunting and photography are pretty similar,” he said. “You get into the environment, hide and wait for the subject to come close to you. It’s a really intimate way to connect with the outdoors.”
Not that Bynum has given up hunting. In fact, he’s a three-time winner of the Washington Slam, a recognition given to hunters who have successfully shot three subspecies of wild turkey in a given season.
“It’s so dorky, but it’s still a badge of pride,” Bynum said. “I put it on my list of accomplishments for my vet school application.”
To see more of Bynum’s work, go to https://goo.gl/photos/qPGJEmDGEC1ZnMmo9.