Coastal brown bear with mountains in the distance
Last fall I went on a photography tour in Alaska. I was in a group led by TinMan Lee winner of Nature's Best Photograph of the Year in 2013 and current judge for Bird Photographer Of The Year and Nature Photographer of the Year. I learned a lot from the trip and I do believe it really moved my photography to the next level. It is one thing to read about certain aspects of photography and watch videos it is another to actually watch a world-class photographer in the field.
My most liked image on my now lost Instagram site had almost 500,000 views with over 25,000 likes and 1,000 comments
I watched TinMan closely and observed where he placed himself, how he aligned his background, the light, the angles, and it made me change my approach to photography and I compose photos now very differently in the field. As I continue to grow and learn I have gone back to the images I was first so drawn to, mostly the in-your-face charging bear photos from Alaska. While good I do not love them so much anymore.
A coastal brown bear and cub sit on the bank of a stream in the rain waiting for salmon
I am pulled now to some of the works that tell stories, that situate the bears more in their habitat. As I reflect on this shift in my preference I believe I evolved from watching TinMan and how he composed his images in the field. Now do not get me wrong if you know TinMan's work they tend to be clean close-ups with stunning backgrounds and sharp detail. He is not one that does a lot of animalscapes like Tom Mangelsen. But what I learned about angles, background, light, and position from simply watching him work has allowed me to capture better animalscapes.
A coastal brown bear cub walking along the shoreline
Why am I more focused on animalscapes lately? A few reasons, first having lost my Instagram account and now restarting I am not that keen on putting all the time and effort into regrowing that following. Animalscapes do not show well on Instagram, closeups are much better, so I tended to take images that worked for Instagram in the past. or even edit great animalscapes to be more portraits to display better on Instagram. Now that I have shifted my thinking and approach to Social Media am not chasing Instagram followers anymore, I am wanting to showcase the images I am drawn to and those are ones that tell stories and situate the subject in its habitat.
A coastal brown bear in the ocean during low tide
I am working at creating habitat photos that are fine art, not a very easy feat, I will say! But habitat photos are more conducive to assisting with conservation work as habitat is paramount n conservation photography. Second I have decided after some very great arguments to start posting some of let's call them my B roll images for Stock photography on Adobe and Alamy. Although approved for submitting to Getty Images I won't use them as they make you sign an exclusivity contract but more about the entire side of stock photography in another newsletter. I will wrap up the stock photography discussion to say Animalscapes way outsell portraits in stock photography.
A coastal brown bear looking for the salmon she has just missed
As I revisit my Alaska photos, I excluded a lot of images because the bears were too far away and now I am reexamining and enjoying those photos. As we each evolve and grow as artists our work changes. it is critically important to NOT discard images when you first review them. You may not intend to edit them but you may never know in the future what you may do with them. External hard drives are not that expensive and you can never get back a photo that you dump off your camera or delete from your files. I am sure glad I did not delete any of the photos I took in Alaska as images I would have deleted in September are now some great keepers! So save and do not delete. I am sure glad I did. As I go back over these photos different ones now catch my eye and I know as I constantly shift and grow as an artist different images will continue to catch my attention. So just back those images and keep on clicking and at some point revisit some of your old work, You might just find some hidden gems!