6 New Year's Resolutions for the Photographer

6 New Year's Resolutions for the Photographer

As the year draws to a close, one great temptation inevitably tickles the back of my brain: the urge to make resolutions. I'm grateful for what felt like a full, rich, and challenging year. With the closing of it, I'm teasing out the threads of lessons learned that can be woven into a guide -- or at least a safety net -- for next year.

May these personal resolutions help inspire you on some level to craft your own approach to to the New Year that will bring you joy, satisfaction and success. 

 

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10 strategies to stop taking pictures and start making photographs

10 strategies to stop taking pictures and start making photographs

How do you make a photograph?

Alongside and within the effort of finding one's style, there is the challenge of learning how to see not only the world that is in front of you, but the photograph that is in front of you. There is the scene, and there is the way you want to express the scene to others. There is what you see, and there is what you feel about what you see. The difference between taking a picture and making a photograph is the act of capturing the latter in a frame. When you do that, your photography becomes a tool to influence how people see, how they think, how they feel, what they know, what they understand, even how they act.

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Monochrome study of a coyote

Monochrome study of a coyote

The scrappy little brother to the wolf, the wily wild cousin to domestic dogs, the coyote gets on with life whatever the challenges. Unlike so many other larger animals, the coyote thrives in the face of - and sometimes because of - our plowing over of the earth. Rather than be pushed to smaller and smaller margins of wilderness, the coyote sees what openings we've created in golf courses, cemeteries, suburban lawns and urban parks and moves right on in.  

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Returning to film: An exploration of film choices for landscape photography

Returning to film: An exploration of film choices for landscape photography

I haven't used film in about 10 years. It's been a long time away. So I bought five different types recommended to me by various sources and started shooting. All of the following is based on my experience of shooting 12 rolls of film, trying to figure out what I like most specifically for landscape photos. This is all in the spirit of fun and experimentation, and of course is entirely subjective. So enjoy what I've written here, and take it all with a grain of silver halide.

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Why landscapes should be on every animal photographer's shot list

Why landscapes should be on every animal photographer's shot list

There are a lot of dichotomies in photography where most of us find our selves making an either-or decision: Canon or Nikon, people or animals, commercial or editorial. The same tends to be true, I think, for wildlife or landscape. I venture to guess that many if not most wildlife photographers think of landscapes as simply the place where they find their subject, but not something they really want for their portfolio. The landscape is a tool for context or composition, but the goal is always the animal. I've realized that paying attention to landscapes plays a critical role in helping me become a better animal photographer and a better storyteller. Because of that, landscapes are now on my must-have shot list for any shoot.

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Review: Tenba Cooper 15 luxury canvas and leather camera bag

Review: Tenba Cooper 15 luxury canvas and leather camera bag

I love heirloom items. Things that are made beautifully and made to last. Things that you want to show off, that you will use for decades, that you can pass down to your kids. In the camera bag world, functionality reigns so while the market has plenty of tough and well-made bags, elegant style often takes a back seat. That's why when I saw the new Cooper Collection from Tenba, the selection of bags stood out. 

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3 tough truths about finding your photographic style

3 tough truths about finding your photographic style

After coming home from a shoot, I uploaded my photos into Lightroom and started sorting through them. When the photo above popped up, I felt a brief wave across my brain and a quick squeeze in my stomach that comes when I see an image I've made and just know: this is exactly right. I had been wondering for years when I would find my voice in photography. It was an evolution I knew would happen if I just let it roll forward on its own. I have waited a long time for it to appear, and during that time I've learned three difficult truths about the process, or really the waiting, behind finding one's own style.

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Feathers and farmland: California's farmers are critical to bird migration on the Pacific flyway

Feathers and farmland: California's farmers are critical to bird migration on the Pacific flyway

Every year, millions of birds take flight and wing their way along the Pacific Flyway, which runs from the northern reaches of Alaska, down the west coast of North America, through California and into Mexico.

As birds head down the flyway this winter, how many will be able to survive the trek? Their fate relies on an unexpected ally: the California farmer.

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The best wildlife lens in your kit might be a cheap 50mm

The best wildlife lens in your kit might be a cheap 50mm

When it comes down to it, the old adage still holds true: the best camera is the one you have on you. Great photos come from the skill of the person holding the gear and not from the gear itself. A quality photographer can make great images with any camera. And as viewers, we will always value content over quality in photography.

Whenever I start to forget that, and fall into the thinking of, "If I just had [insert latest awesome gear], then I could really step up my photography," I remember my experience with this little red fox and a beat-up nifty fifty lens.

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Join me on a 10-day Alaskan adventure by boat!

Join me on a 10-day Alaskan adventure by boat!

Humpbacks and orcas and grizzlies, oh my!!

Have you ever wanted to spend 10 days on a beautiful boat, staring out at the gorgeous coastline of southeast Alaska, watching sea otters splashing on the waves, eagles flying overhead as they hunt for fish, whales breaching and bears prowling the shoreline? And all the while taking fantastic photographs to bring home and show family and friends? This is your chance to have that very experience, and you'll have it with a top-notch conservation organization and me, your on-board photography guide.

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90 percent of sea birds have eaten plastic! Here are 9 ways you can reduce plastic use today

90 percent of sea birds have eaten plastic! Here are 9 ways you can reduce plastic use today

Walking among the nest cups of the albatross, a visitor will notice that scattered on all sides of the down-covered chicks are bits of brightly colored plastic. This plastic did not wash ashore. It was brought here. Plucked from the sea by accident or in a case of mistaken identity, it was carried by adult albatross and fed to their chicks along with the rich fish oil and bits of squid that nourish the chicks as they grow.

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On baiting wildlife and truth in captioning

On baiting wildlife and truth in captioning

By not rewarding the photographers who use baiting, both new and experienced photographers will, hopefully, spend more time thinking about why baiting is an ethically questionable practice. And more photographers will, hopefully, spend more time learning their subject, studying the species, and positioning themselves around the subject for a shot, rather positioning the subject around themselves.

If patience, knowledge of the subject, and skill is the only way a photographer is able to get their image on the cover of the nature magazine, or win the top award from that prestigious contest, then they'll be more likely to wait, not bait. And that can make all the difference for wildlife.

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The wildlife and landscapes of summer on the tundra in northwest Alaska

The wildlife and landscapes of summer on the tundra in northwest Alaska

My first time witnessing the height of summer just south of the Arctic circle where days are so long you forget how to tell time. There's also birds in breeding plumage that you never see farther south. And baby musk oxen with their squee-inducing moments of cute. But the light, especially the hours of gold on each side of twilight, just might be the best gift of summertime this far north.

Gathered here are my favorite little moments from five days on the tundra next to the Bering Sea.

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A special sunrise: Photographing the colors of the light spectrum

A special sunrise: Photographing the colors of the light spectrum

Something that tops my list of most enjoyable things in life is to head out the door while it's still dark outside, and drive to a favorite hiking trail with my dog and my camera. Nothing beats the cool, crisp air, the quiet broken only by birdsong, the smell of damp sage or fallen leaves, and most importantly, the colorful transition of night to day.

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Conservation Canines rescues dogs that save wildlife around the world

Conservation Canines rescues dogs that save wildlife around the world

There are two consistent truths in the conservation industry:
1. No one works in conservation for money, fame, or easy success. The work is difficult, time consuming, and often thankless. Still, you do it because truly passionate about the good you are accomplishing.
2. You cannot succeed on your own. You need to consistently enlist help.

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