Once I discovered photography, art, and imagery, I was immediately drawn to the works of Tony Rath. It was a vague sense of 'knowing' Tony took pictures of Belize and its people, its waters, its animals - feeling that he was an important asset to our country. It wasn't until later in life, deep in my work with the media, that my interest went beyond the pretty images. In fact, it was the less than stellar subjects that his lens captured - coupled with a passionate story and plea to the people of Belize - that made my respect and love for Tony Rath the photographer and Belizean really grow. Discovering Tony's work - witnessing sights of Belize that I had never dreamed of - took my breath away. I feel strongly about a lot of artists' works, and Tony is right at the top. I love watching artists put ink to skin, pen to paper, paint to canvas, bringing to life the images in their minds and ideas to life. Tony takes his tools: lens, lighting, a willing (or unsuspecting) subject and somehow, brings out angles and sheds light on shadows that the ordinary onlooker would not have noticed.

His incredible photographs captured the utter rugged beauty of the forest, the hardships faced by the limited number of rangers trying to watch over 265,000 acres of tropical broadleaf forest, and the team's struggle to make it to their destination. Not only were his images powerful but his words struck a nerve in those who read it, learning just how hard it is to protect our national heritage against poverty-stricken Guatemalans who risk their lives to poach from Belize's rich resources just beyond their border. It was then that my admiration shifted, and my respect grew.

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