This photo is special to me thanks to the community involvement in removing burdock, a local invasive species, and the associated storytelling opportunities. I’m a nature photographer, but a conservationist first. As a committee member of the Sacajawea Audubon Society here in Bozeman, Montana, I wanted to shed light on our local conservation efforts. Our “Knock out Burdock” campaign has brought many volunteers from various backgrounds together to make change in our community. My vision in taking this photograph was to raise awareness on this issue in the hope that I would encourage others to get involved and start a larger discussion.
How I got the shot
When I signed up to volunteer to remove burdock, I knew the risks this plant posed for small birds and intended to capture those dangers in a photograph to improve storytelling for the Audubon Society. I conveyed this photographic vision to my fellow volunteers and it wasn’t long before my name was being called – a deceased bird was found trapped in a plant. The shot came to fruition thanks to having a vision and sharing it with the team.
What I Used
In capturing this photo, I used my Nikon D500 with my Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 DI VC USD telephoto zoom lens. No special equipment was needed in taking this photograph since I was provided with ample sunlight. Camera settings: 1/320 second, f/8, ISO 500, at 175mm.
I’m a self-taught, hobbyist nature photographer based out of Bozeman, Montana. I got my first DSLR camera in 2013, it wasn’t until 2016 that I learned how to use my camera manually. I’ve worked conservation jobs ranging from Florida to Guyana, Alaska and Montana and traveled the US on many outdoor adventures, honing my skills along the way. As a wildlife and nature enthusiast I don’t know that I have a favorite subject or location. I do know that I love exploring new places and building relationships with my subjects. I think what’s most important is the experiences you create when you get behind the camera.
Growing up in a house full of extroverts in Orlando, my natural demeanor is very loud and outgoing. I love nothing more than having a few drinks with friends and laughing the night away. Coming from the city I didn’t even know what backpacking was until I was in college! When I began to get serious about nature photography I found a new, vastly different side of myself that thrives in peace and solitude with an intense commitment to protecting the wild spaces previously unknown to me. My blue collar upbringing and values shape my approach to environmental ethics and I’m forever grateful to my parents for that.
My photographic journey
I inadvertently got hooked on nature photography when I took an avian biology class in college. At first, I was using my camera as a tool for observation, but I would occasionally score a photograph that was gratifying. Once I was comfortable identifying birds, I strived to compose better photographs and develop my photographic eye. I have a large network of friends and family that always supports my photographic endeavors. When I have my camera in hand I feel liberated from the “real world” and am humbled by the natural world around me, this keeps me coming back every chance I get.
NANPA and me
I am an inaugural member of NANPA and a first-time contributor to the Showcase. I remember seeing last year’s Showcase and being inspired by everyone’s work. I’m honored to be recognized as the “Judge’s Choice” for the Conservation category and I plan on being a valued member of the NANPA organization.