• 23H x 35W inches

• 33H x 49W inches

• 43H x 64W inches


When coming face to face with a problem, every animal goes into either fight or flight mode. They either deal with the issue head-on or run away, which is simply evolution in motion. Whether the issue is escaping a predator or finding the perfect reindeer decor Christmas products for their home, we all make this choice. We can either go through our problems when they meet us or turn in the other direction. Even if not much else, humans and animals co-evolved and share this particular survival tactic. 


How we handle difficult situations in our lives shapes who we are as people. Once again, our choices fall into either the “runaway” or “deal with it” category. This natural physiological reaction can definitely help us navigate dangerous situations. However, it can also be triggered by potential threats that are non-existent.  

The stress of a potential threat can prepare you to handle the situation better. Pressure from such situations can give you the motivation to get through things like school or work assignments. We tend to channel this energy as either fear to face our fear or fear of failure. Only the latter enables us to perform better. The fight or flight response has persisted after millennia of evolution because it gives us a better chance of getting through the problems in our lives. 


I was in Svalbard photographing this reindeer photo. The bitter cold had been doing a number on me. I wasn’t necessarily in the best mood, quite literally embodying the feeling of being “bitter” cold. My patience for the perfect picture art for my reindeer decor was growing thin. I was happy to be there but everyone enjoys their creature comforts at the end of the day. Hoping that I could just focus on the work at hand and block out the rest.

I calmly began to approach this herd of reindeer, gauging how they reacted to me. I knew I would be perceived as a threat. These deer were prey animals after all, and have developed systems for surveillance within their herd structure. I watched as I got closer and closer to these animals. Some of them turned around and looked at me and some of them got up and walked away. I was expecting a bit more of a frenzy or at least a hustle to get further from me. 


Conversely, these deer seemed to be unbothered by my presence for the most part. In fact, this one particular reindeer allowed me to get very close to him. I was encouraged by his acceptance to get even closer to photograph him. A closer shot would make for excellent reindeer decor and picture art. So I started inching towards him, hoping for the same acceptance that he had already shown me.

Unfortunately, he had no intention of fulfilling my wishes. As soon as I had taken one step too many, he turned around. This beautiful animal was giving me the cold shoulder and looking straight ahead as if to forget that I was even there. You don’t need much imagination to see how underwhelming a shot of his hindquarters would have been. My model was trying to ignore the fact that I may have been a threat to him at the time. My reindeer decor would just have to wait. The photographs I needed for my Christmas products deserved this deer’s full attention.


I couldn’t even be mad at this animal for ignoring me. After all, I do the exact same thing in my natural habitat, New York City. When things get tough, I ignore them. I brush them under the rug and pretend that I never even saw them. Perhaps, we weren’t so different after all. We both seem to find comfort in ignoring potential threats or inconveniences. While this is tempting and convenient it isn’t the best way to deal with our problems in life.

The only way out of a difficult situation is through. There isn’t a shortcut that we can take that lets us circumvent the challenges that life throws at us. Running away from your problems now doesn’t mean that they will go away. They will stay as they are until you find the courage to face them. The minute you stop running, your problems will catch up. Furthermore, when this does happen you will likely be too tired to do your best to deal with them. So while fight and flight are both options available to us, we should be smart about when we use them. It is better to get through challenges when they first appear, rather than later when you’re exhausted from being chased by them. 


Horses | Lions | Tigers | Elephants | Monkeys | Bears | Birds | Snowy Owls | Arctic Wolves | Mountain Lions | Musk Oxen | Bald Eagles | Bison | Reindeer | Arctic Fox

*A percentage of proceeds from Khan’s exhibits and sales goes to foundations that support the awareness and conservation of wildlife.

To see Khan’s fashion photography, please visit ejazkhanphotography.com

View Khan’s directorial feature film vanishingknowledge.com