Max Freund was 9 years old, a little boy on a family trip to Africa. Things hadn’t been going so well at school for Max. Dyslexia made it tough for him to read and write. His father, conservationist and avid photographer William Freund, brought the family along on a business trip with the thrill of a safari tacked on.
William and Max watched from afar as an enormous bull elephant devoured the leaves on a nearby tree. William snapped photo after photo until Max asked his dad if he could shoot, too.
Suddenly, Max was less than 5 yards away from the elephant—now in an agitated state, ears stretching out wide on either side, shoulders hunched in an aggressive stance. Max, unfazed, continued to concentrate on getting the “money” shot.
“I was about 20 yards from Max, but what was I going to do? It was an elephant,” said Freund. “Max just got up and moved away. One of those photos got him a scholastics award. This was an incredibly powerful experience for him. This was something he was really, really good at.”
William and Max Freund are now partners in the fStop Foundation, a not-for-profit photographic enterprise focused on education and conservation. Both are rarely without a camera and both are creating masterful works in the service of protecting the planet. William’s wife Amy and daughter Abby are also involved, as are several accomplished photographers.
“We hold photo meet-ups with students from Florida schools to shoot with Raymond Gehman who is a National Geographic photographer and Marc Serota who has shot for Sports Illustrated and the Olympics,” said Freund.
For the Conservancy, fStop photographed threatened and endangered flora and fauna on Big Pine Key and at the John J. Pescatello Torchwood Hammock Preserve on Little Torch Key. The result of that trip went beyond still photography to a video on climate change featuring the Conservancy’s south Florida program manager, Chris Bergh.
“Working with fStop is always such a rewarding experience,” said Fran Perchick, marketing manager for The Nature Conservancy in Florida. “Their dedication to conservation and a world where nature and people thrive is not only inspiring but aligned with our mission. Camera capture shots of the Key deer and Florida panther are dynamic and so important in promoting our work across the state and beyond.”
“My dream is to create enough awareness that people understand that humans are not separate from nature,” said Freund. “That everything we do affects nature and we need nature to survive.”