Hannah Isenhart has gotten up close and personal with black bears, photographing several roaming around Yellowstone National Park.
She has captured images of moose exploring Wyoming’s Grand Tetons and wolves nestled in the grass of the Flatirons of Colorado — all taken from just a few feet away.
Unlike what’s found in the pages of National Geographic, the animals in Hannah’s photos are plush toys that she carefully arranges against the backdrop of their natural habitats. And at 12 years old, she has found a way to use her interest in photographing the great outdoors to make money, one card and calendar at a time.
“I made them into a Christmas present card for family and friends, but one time someone asked, ‘Do you sell these cards?’ ” Hannah said recently. “I started making them for a winter fair that my school did each year.”
In the five years since, the Colorado seventh-grader’s hobby has turned into a business called Hanimals. Her collection captures images of 20 stuffed animals — an owl, an elk, a porcupine and a chickadee included — taken in some of the country’s most famous national parks.
The photos are sold primarily as greeting cards and calendars and are available online at myhanimals.com. (Always ask a parent or teacher before going online.)
Hannah started off by selling the cards at stores near her Boulder, Colorado, home. “I just walked in [to the stores] and kind of asked them, ‘Do you think you would sell my cards here?’ And they told me yes,” she said.
Hannah donates one-third of the money she receives from the sales of her cards to support research at Polar Bear International, an organization that does research to help save the animals. So far, her donations total more than $1,000.
Hanimals is a family affair for the Isenharts. Her father got Hannah interested in photography when she was 4, and he has taught her about shutter speed, autofocus and lighting techniques. Her mother introduced her to cashier’s checks and invoices, which Hannah uses to track the printing expenses that she has to pay every month. Even younger brother Jesse, 10, has found a way to get involved with his sister’s photography business.
Hannah said she pays him to fold greeting cards and to use his stuffed animals in her photos. She has also paid him to act as a human prop.