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This Genocide Survivor Finds Peace in Photographing Squirrels


Wildlife photographer Niki Colemont never met his late parents and fled the Rwandan genocide to Belgium as a 4-year-old refugee. This 1-minute documentary about Colemont shows how he finds peace today in shooting beautiful photographs of squirrels.

“When I am in nature, I don’t think about troubles,” Colemont says. “The squirrels, they are like humans. If you have an idea that you want to create, they can help you with that. They are the perfect models.”

Colemont never received a formal education and learned his photography skills through trial and error.

His creative photos of squirrels are shot in his backyard and can take weeks to create from idea to finished image. After setting up a miniature scene for the squirrel to interact with, Colemont waits patiently for the squirrel to investigate and get comfortable with it.

“I don’t use Photoshop,” the photographer says. “It’s important to be natural.”

Colemont’s photography is starting to be recognized internationally: in 2019, he was a finalist in the National Geographic photo contest.

You can find more of Colemont’s work on his website, 500px, and Instagram.