Larry West passed away at home on December 15, 2015, with his loved ones at his side. He was preceded in death by his parents Virginia Bates and Charles West. Surviving to miss him are his wife of 38 years, Bonnie, his children, Jeff West and Jennifer Williams, and his beloved grandchildren, Kaitlynn and Zachary Sommer.
Larry was a kind and gentle man to everyone and everything. He had a brilliant mind, loved nature and photography, loved to talk to anyone, sang every morning, gave errant insects in the house a gentle lift outdoors, and had an outstanding memory for great jokes.
Larry loved nature as a small child and was never happier than when he was outdoors. By age fifteen, Larry purchased the first of many cameras in his lifelong quest to reproduce on film the beauty and wonder of nature that was to be his life’s passion. By the time he was in his twenties, editors were calling him “…one of the most outstanding nature photographers in the country.”
Larry traveled and photographed in North America, Central America, and New Zealand during his lifetime, but was happiest photographing in his own 28 acre back yard.
During his lifetime, Larry wrote many articles and books on nature photography, taught thousands of budding nature photographers over 30+ years of workshops, programs, guest lecturing at Rochester Institute of Photography for many years, collaborated with scientists and natural history professors at U of M and MSU, and became an expert on endangered species. He became a leading advocate for protecting the environment and urged nature photographers to protect the environment and “do no harm” to any insect, animal or plant being photographed.
Larry’s images have been published internationally in articles, textbooks, and magazines such as National Geographic, Nature Photography, Audubon, National and International Wildlife, Birder’s World, Ranger Rick, and many more.
In 1977, the Michigan Natural Resource Magazine devoted an entire issue to Larry’s photographs.
In 1995, an international panel of wildlife editors from Audubon, Nature Photographer, National Geographic, National and International Wildlife, Ranger Rick, and others collaborated together to come up with a list of who they felt were the top 20 Wildlife Photographers in the world out of many thousands. The international group of photographers that they picked came from England, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, Canada, and the United States, among others. The twenty they chose then were each allowed to pick 3 photographs that would then become part of the beautiful book “Magnificent Moments; The World’s Greatest Wildlife Photographs.” Larry was one of those twenty.
In 2009, noted nature photographer, writer, and teacher, Jeff March wrote an article about Larry for the Nature Photography Magazine titled “Larry West – Master of Macro.” Helen Longest-Saccone, editor of Nature Photographer, wrote at the introduction of the article: “…Even though interviews are no longer featured in Nature Photographer, we have made an exception in this case. It is with great pleasure that on our 20th Anniversary, we are honored to again feature the work of Larry West, a master of not only macro, but of all aspects of nature photography, and of life.”
Larry’s family sends thanks and love to all the wonderful friends, editors, and naturalist photographers that were a part of our beloved Larry’s life. Thanks also to Heartland Hospice and our wonderful nurse, Melinda Brown. We will miss our Larry always and are grateful for the time we had.
Larry West’s family sends their thanks to the wonderful friends and wildlife photographers that gathered in Gaylord, MI, on April 22nd and 23rd, 2016, to celebrate the life of Larry West. Arrangements are by the Estes-Leadley Holt/Delhi Chapel. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to any animal welfare, nature, or wildlife organization of your choice. Online condolences may be left for his family at www.EstesLeadley.com