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Barbara von Hoffman '54

February 6, 2019

Barbara von Hoffman '54 was profiled in Cheyenne Edition on 2.6.19, in a story about her wildlife photography: "A Cheyenne Mountain octogenarian is earning praise for her African wildlife images, many of which have been featured on the covers of national publications. For nearly half a century Barbara von Hoffman, 82, has traveled the world photographing wildlife, endangered special and exotic and domestic dogs and pets. Through her creative output, von Hoffman has amassed an extensive collection of vividly detailed images that explore nature's animal kingdom, earning praise for both animal lovers and photo enthusiasts. 'I always loved animals, and I became passionate about photographing them,' von Hoffman said. 'Besides wildlife, I photograph people's pets.' Pursuing a photographic career wasn't even on von Hoffman's creative radar when the Missouri born-and-raised native earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish from Washington University in St. Louis. She said she earned the sheepskin not for profit, but for herself. 'I was good in foreign languages and found Spanish interesting,' von Hoffman said, laughing. It wasn't until she participated in her first African safari in 1970 that von Hoffman became interested in wildlife photography. Barely into her thirties, von Hoffman became friends with renown Canadian nature photographer, writer and teacher Freeman Patterson, who ignited and encouraged von Hoffman's creativity. 'It was a dream come true. Patterson encouraged and showed me incredible images through his camera. He inspired me to pursue photography, so I gave my mom back the camera I borrowed and bought my own. Previously, I just had an Instamatic,' von Hoffman said. As it happened, that fun-filled safari turned into a frightening experience when the entourages; driver chased a young male lion across the African landscape. When he tired of the chase, the cat turned around, approached the entourage and gnawed at the vehicle, scaring everyone with its cavernous jaws and dagger-like teeth. 'He kept watching us, and then ran up to our vehicle, stood up on the side of it and grabbed the window metal strip with his teeth. It was so frightening, but it was a very stupid thing for our driver to do,' von Hoffman said. Ever inquisitive about nature, von Hoffman has returned to Africa 20 times and tapeless extensively to photograph willed int heir natural habitat. 'I've been leading safaris for many years now and it's always wonderful to be back in East Africa, mainly Kenya. I have also traveled to Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa,' she said. Von Hoffman's images have graced the covers of Defenders, Financial World, Outside and Skating magazines. Her work also has appeared in Wildlife Conservation, Woman and American Kennel Gazette, and in Audobon, Bantam, Reader's Digest and National Wildlife Federation publications. Despite her dislike for participating in photo contests, von Hoffman won the Zoos and Aquariums category in the 2011 Nature's Best Photography Awards Exhibition. Her image of a Rothschild giraffe mother and calf illustrates the close relationship between a mother and its offspring and remains von Hoffman's favorite photo, she said. 'It is very touching, and Nature's Best had an exhibit at the Smithsonian for several months. I traveled there for the opening which was quite exciting. It was a momentous occasion and very special meeting the other winners,' von Hoffman said of the contests that boasted more than 20,000 entries and 16 winners. The photographer also captured the birth of a wildebeest that proved equality exhilarating, she said. 'Photographing the birth of a wildebeest was quite exciting for me and unique to see. Timing is everything,' von Hoffman said. An advocate and activist for endangered animals, von Hoffman has traveled to Antarctica, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands and Tuscany to record the plight of these creatures. 'I plan to return to Africa to take more photos. It's just what I do,' von Hoffman said."