Monday, January 16, 2017

Why I'm Not a Wildlife Photographer

If I were a wildlife photographer, I'd be very good at it.  However, I'm not a wildlife photographer, and I'm also not particularly good at it.

I think every photographer has something he or she does best:  maybe wildlife, maybe portraits or street photography or landscapes.  That doesn't mean that if street photography is your thing, you can't also do wildlife.  You may be a generalist and can shoot pretty much anything, but you'll be better at some things than others.

In my past couple of blog entries, I posted images from the ice storm of a few days ago.  All it took was going out into my yard and pointing the camera at some tree limbs.  I came up with what I thought were a few outstanding images.

Yesterday, as I was making out a grocery list, I noticed a red-tailed hawk swoop by the window and land in the branches of the ice-covered tree you see in my blog post of a couple of days ago.  My first thought was to grab my camera (which I did) and get some images (which I did).  My second thought was that my lens isn't long or fast enough.  I don't have time to pull out a tripod, and I'll scare the creature away if I I get anywhere near it. My images were obtained by holding the camera to the glass of the window and shooting from indoors.  I was aware that the images would not be professional quality wildlife photography, but I still felt I had to do the best with what I had.  I think my images were okay considering the limitations, but that's it -- certainly not anything special.

The hawk was in the tree for maybe 60 or 70 seconds. (You can click on images in this blog for a closer view.)

Here's the difference.  If I were a wildlife photographer, the hawk would be sharp and well-defined.  You would see fine details in the feathers and reflections in the eyes; and it might even be an action shot with the bird, wings outstretched, landing on the icy branches.  Here's another difference. I would have had the proper equipment, and I'd have spent hours out in the cold, first scoping out the location, then in a wildlife blind waiting for the proper second to obtain the exposure. 

My equipment and efforts are devoted to the type of photography I do best:  street and candid people photography.  If I were a wildlife photographer my work flow would be different, my time would be spent differently, and I'd have a bag of different camera equipment.

Below are some images of the type of photography I do best.

The Textile Merchant (Guatemala)  I won my first major photography award (the Versace Award) with this image.

Mayan Beauty (Guatemala).  This is one of my favorite images.

Old Woman of Chichicastenango (Guatemala)

Man Enjoying a Soda (Guatemala)

Venetian Violinist (Italy)

Walking After Midnight (León, Spain)

Tapas Bar (León, Spain)

I think the message here is:  don't worry that you can't do it all perfectly.  Shoot what you enjoy shooting and if you care and take it seriously, you'll probably be good at it because you'll do what it takes to be good at it.

You can see lots more of my images on my fine art photography website at: While you will find the images above on my website, you won't find the hawk.  Sorry, hawk!  Maybe a real wildlife photographer will give you the treatment you deserve.

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