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People come to the art and craft of photography from all sorts of beginnings. This is the story of how one wildlife photographer came to his passion—as a result of dumb luck!
I grew up as a city kid in Boston, Massachusetts.
While others had the good fortune to grow up on a national seashore, near Yellowstone, or maybe even the Grand Canyon, not me. I grew up surrounded by buildings and asphalt. For me, wildlife consisted of squirrels and pigeons. Watching shows like “Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom” or a rare visit to the zoo was as close as I got to seeing real wildlife. It was distant, exotic, and completely beyond my reach.
I picked up a camera somewhat early. After discovering my Dad's “Argus Brick”, I was inspired at the age of 17 to buy a used Canon TL. I studied everything I could about photography, and slowly got better at it—even teaching a few small classes at home, by the age of 18.
But it wasn't until about 30 years later that the obsession with wildlife photography started.
Even into adulthood, I had always assumed that the ability to see real wildlife, much less to photograph it, was meant for other people. Though I had long since moved out of the big city to the seaside town of Scituate, the city kid inside still clung to those old assumptions.
Then one day, while walking with my camera on a nature trail on Cape Cod, I heard something rustle in the tree next to me. I turned and shot without even thinking. And I got the shot: a Black-capped Chickadee. His eyes were sharp, and I even got motion blur in his wings!
I was instantly captivated. And even though I knew that shot involved a lot of dumb luck (and it wasn't really a great shot), I thought to myself, “I could do a lot more of this!!” Since that day, I've driven thousands of miles, hiked and waited endless hours while going for that, "perfect" image. I've shot tens of thousands of frames in the process.
I've also invested a lot of time in trying to explain to family and friends why it makes perfectly good sense to get up on a frigid winter morning to hunt for Snowy Owls in -30 wind chill. Or to stare at a nest of baby Great Horned Owls for 4 hours straight while waiting for just the right pose.
Mostly, they think I'm nuts—right up until they see the image!
How about you? What's your obsession in photography? What captivated you?
Leave a comment, and share your obsession with the rest of us. And may we all stay obsessed and passionate about this wonderful art and craft of photography!