By Frances Figart, Creative Director
Radim Schreiber didn’t get to see fireflies as a child growing up in the Czech Republic. So, when he discovered them in the United States, he was blown away.
“I was in awe,” he says. “That magical night experience was (and still is) just fascinating to me. It made me feel connected with nature. I felt joy and lightness in the dark.”
One night he saw a firefly on a blade of grass in the light of a full moon. The technology to take the photo he wanted of it didn’t exist yet, but he held onto that image in his mind’s eye.
“I spent a lot of time between classes in college taking photos of insects—grasshoppers, praying mantis, butterflies—and discovered a whole new world in the grass,” says Schreiber. “I got excited about the micro photography of insects.”
By 2011, digital photography had finally caught up with Schreiber’s vision of the firefly on the blade of grass, and “Amber Firefly” won the Smithsonian magazine photo contest in the Natural World division. Since then he has won national and international photography competitions, including a 2015 prize in the Altered Images category of the Smithsonian magazine photo contest for his photo of the synchronous fireflies in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
“Lots of people have beautiful memories from their childhood of catching fireflies in jars,” says Schreiber. “I enjoy helping people reconnect to those memories.”
Schreiber’s book, Firefly Experience, is available at fireflyexperience.org, where you can also learn more about his work and view videos from his experiences.
Editor’s note: Some information and quotes in this article appeared in Smokies Life magazine, Spring 2020, Vol. 14, No. 1. This issue features a glow-in-the-dark cover with images by Shreiber.