Guest Post by S. J. Brown
What do you want to talk about but never get asked?
No one ever asks what I do when I am not out in the field with critters.
There’s a lot more to being a wildlife photographer than simply taking pictures. Getting a good wildlife shot starts long before I go out into the field. When exploring a new area I need to know everything I can about the area and the wildlife that reside there. I need to know about the animal’s behavior, and food preferences. Also how accessible an area is and the weather are important factors I need to consider. Yes, I will brave bitter cold temperatures or massive traffic jams for the possibility of photographing a particular type of migrating bird. The more I know the better my chances of finding my desired subject or subjects. So when I am not out encountering critters I am doing research to help me have my next encounter.
I spent a considerable amount of time making decisions about my portfolio as well. I think every well focused shot has merit, however not all of them are portfolio worthy. There are often very subtle differences between two images, it could be the angle, a shadow or even the background that lands a photo in the reject pile.
There is a lot of office work involved in being a wildlife photographer. Just getting a great shot isn’t enough to keep things going, I have to submit my work. I submit to magazines, calendar companies, greeting card companies, and even puzzle companies. Before I submit to a company for the first time I have to do some research. If I send the images to a company that has no interest in wildlife I am wasting my time as well as theirs.
Also I love doing exhibits and shows. These are my opportunity to share my love of wildlife one on one with people. I get to see their reaction to my images and discuss the details behind getting the shot.
I occasionally do presentations at schools or for groups. These are fun as well. I get a chance to show off my latest work and interact with students that might not be wildlife enthusiasts. By the time I am done my presentation most of them think about the environment and critters a little more.
Somehow in the midst of all this, I find time to write, and rewrite. Yes I am working on my next book, a few articles, and I also write to family and friends. Being out in the filed, spending even a brief moment close to a wild animal, and recording that moment on film makes doing all the other stuff worth it.
About S. J. Brown and Close Ups & Close Encounters
On a whim, S. J. Brown decided to embark on a career in wildlife photography. Armed with an inexpensive 35mm camera and a love for the natural world, her adventure began. Accompanied by her spotter and husband, she ventured to a variety of locations.
The couple soon learned that there was more to this than just camera settings, lighting, and getting the right angle. Not all wildlife is agreeable to having their picture taken, and many are not easily accessible.
Camera in hand, S. J. Brown encountered delicate butterflies, bears, birds, deer, wild horses, and more. Along the way, there are successes and failures, cooperative critters, curious subjects, and some close calls.
As a wildlife photographer S. J. Brown took her cues from her subjects. Their body language let her know when to step in for a closer shot and when to back away. When she was out in the field, she strove to observe and record not to interfere. The exception to this rule is when people pose a threat to wildlife; then she will take time to relocate a road dwelling critter to its location. Brown has saved snapper turtles from soup and other creatures from the taunts and teases of unwise humans, but she will not interfere with Mother Nature’s food chain unless it involves a domestic animal pursuing a wild creature. With this in mind, she has sent many a cat away from a bird feeder and saved many a squirrel from a curious canine.
S. J. Brown’s book Close Ups & Close Encounters features over fifty of her wildlife photographs as well as the stories behind getting those images. S. J. Brown’s photographs and written words are her way of sharing her experiences. Introducing others, such as her granddaughter, to the field is one of her primary goals and loves. She hopes her work will give others an appreciation for the natural world.
My eight-year-old daughter and I quite enjoyed S.J. Brown’s book, “Close Ups and Close Encounters: A View From Behind the Lens”. The book features some nice photographs of wildlife ranging from a squirrel, butterflies, birds, and larger animals like giraffes, elephants, and bears. The paper quality is quite good, it is neither glossy nor too flimsy so the images show up well.
I have to say though that the photographs almost take a backseat to the stories of how S.J. Brown captured these images. The stories are grounded and down-to-earth and provide personal insights into the photographer’s journey as she photographed each subject. The stories are informative and peppered with occasional humor. My daughter and I wish there had been more photographs and it would have also helped if the author-photographer had provided locations for where the subjects were photographed. Other than that, this made an interesting and quick read. – Z Hayes (Amazon)
Really loved this book. The pictures were fabulous and the stories were well written and kept me glued to the pages. This book is for every age group and I am so glad I purchased it. Parents can even read this book to their children and the pictures that accompany them are beautiful. I would gladly recommend this book to anyone. – J. Gonce (Amazon)
One winner (US) will receive a signed print copy of Close Ups & Close Encounters. 2 Winners (International) will receive an ebook copy.
Thanks so much to S. J. Brown for contributing!! I was especially intrigued by all the places you submit your photos to. I’ve never thought of all that. It was nice to get the inside look!!