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How I got the shotShowcaseShowcase 2022

Showcase 2022 Winner: Dave Hattori

By April 15, 2022April 19th, 2022No Comments

Artist’s statement

Living on the East Coast, I often get the opportunity to observe and photograph snowy egrets. Watching them strut, pose, preen, and squawk at perceived intruders makes me think that they have such attitude and take themselves so seriously. They often end up as subjects of my photo art.

With this full-frontal view, I noticed the yellow skin extended from eye to eye above the bill, looking like a costume mask. This prompted the idea to go in a more humorous direction and to dress the snowy up with a top hat and bowtie. An ornate frame was added to emphasize the formality of the portrait and provide a focal point while still showing its brightly colored legs and feet. I often don’t know what a final piece will look like, and one thing often leads to another, which is part of the fun with this kind of creative work!

How I got the shot

I took the base photo during a visit to Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina, a wonderful location for bird photography. This particular snowy egret was standing on one of the pilings, which allowed me to get an eye-level photo by kneeling down. The snowy’s position also enabled me to photograph its full legs and feet, which are normally submerged in water or mud and wouldn’t have worked as well for this kind of full-length portrait.

What I used

To create the photo art piece, the snowy egret was first extracted in Photoshop and Topaz Studio 2 was used to give the bird an illustrative look, moving it away from a photo toward an art piece. The different elements were then assembled and blended as layers in Photoshop to create the final composition.

Showy Snowy, Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina, 2022 Showcase Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Dave Hattori

Headshot of Dave Hattori

About me

I am an Apex, North Carolina-based nature and travel photographer and photo artist. I have been an avid nature photographer for around 20 years and love exploring the outdoors, whether it be in our backyard woods or on the other side of the country or world. I have been fortunate to be able to travel quite a lot and some of my favorite locations have been the American Southwest, Alaska and South Africa. I enjoy and look forward to travelling to new places and revisiting old ones with my wife, who is also a nature photographer.

I did a stint as a horse show photographer when my oldest daughter was riding and showing horses. What else was there to do while sitting around for hours waiting for her to ride? I ended up being an official show photographer, taking thousands of photos a weekend and selling a few prints. Although the financial rewards were very small, I will credit the experience with helping lay the foundation for my wildlife photography skills, although I wish some of the wildlife would be a little more predictable, as were the horses (if not the riders) in the arena!

NANPA and me

I have been a NANPA member since 2014. I have been honored with one Showcase Top 100 and three Showcase Top 250 awards in previous competitions. My wife and I attended our first Regional Event in December at Bosque del Apache, which we are grateful for NANPA for organizing.

Learn more

Photo Art Website:
Photography Website:
Facebook: Dave Hattori Photography
Instagram: davehattoriphoto