I decided to write about something which all young wildlife photographers need: a mentor to help teach, encourage and challenge, too. I am very lucky to have met a lot of very talented and nice people either photographing with, or by sharing images and critiques online. There are also a lot of photographers whom I’ve only met really briefly that I look up to. I’ve tried including them all here.
Sherb is a nature photographer based in New Jersey. He has been a great mentor and friend to me since I met him many years ago at my school. He has helped me a lot with my workflow and also my photography. Sherb wants me to shoot more landscapes and I’m sure one day I will :). I have a lot of great memories of shooting red foxes with Sherb in my backyard! You can learn more about Sherb here: http://sherbnaultyphotography.com
Henry is a nature photographer based in Jackson, WY. He owns a gallery called Wild by Nature Gallery. I was in his gallery one day and I told him I am a wildlife photographer, too. He asked “With your iPhone?” And I said “No”, and I showed him my Flickr site. Ever since, he has taken me photographing around Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park. Henry is an awesome friend and we have a lot of fun together photographing. He also wants me to shoot landscapes more. I would rather find Great Gray Owls and Mountain Lions! Poor Henry! :) You can learn more about Henry, his gallery, photos and guiding service here: http://wildbynatureshop.com
2. Flickr Friends
Flickr is a free photography hosting service from Yahoo. You can upload your photos and then you can meet other people and comment on their images and favorite their shots. It’s has been a fun way to meet other photographers and also learn about different styles and compositions. My Flickr friends are really important to me because they are very supportive and they will tell me honestly what they think of my photos.
3. Photography Heroes
Kim Heacox was my guide during a National Geographic expedition to Alaska when I was 8 years old. I remember how nice he was to me and how interested he was in Alaska and how much he cared about the environment there. I try to keep in touch with him and once a year I get a note from him encouraging me to think differently and be creative.
I met Thomas Mangelsen while I was photographing Great Gray Owls in Jackson, WY during the Government Shutdown in October, 2013. We photographed right next to each other for two afternoons. He was incredibly friendly and very supportive of my interest in photography. This summer I bumped into him again in Grand Teton while we were photographing Grizzly 760 and he recognized me and we talked for awhile. I love his passion for wildlife and how he stands up for animals’ rights. He is an amazing photographer but also cares a lot about his subjects. You can learn more about Thomas here: http://mangelsen.com
I met Joel Sartore while we was touring through my hometown to talk about his National Geographic projects. He has been working on a project to document endangered species. He is a really funny guy and his photos are very unique. He came to my school after his show to see my wildlife photography exhibit. I love that he focuses on animals which need our help the most. You can learn more about Joel here: http://www.joelsartore.com
Paul Nicklen is another National Geographic photographer that I met during a tour of his speaking events in my hometown. Paul is an accomplished underwater photographer. He has taken incredible shots of penguins and leopard seals in really super cold conditions. He also did a project for NatGeo on the Spirit Bear and the coastal wolves of British Columbia. I like his adventurous spirit. You can learn more about Paul here: http://www.paulnicklen.com
I met Melissa after she came to my house this summer to photograph red foxes in my yard. Unfortunately the fox kits had already moved on and we had really bad weather, but we had a lot of fun together photographing horse colts and just hanging out! She is a very dedicated wildlife conservationist who has worked a lot with elephants. I like that Melissa cares more about the safety of her subjects than she does getting the shot. She is awesome!
You can learn more about Melissa Groo here: http://melissagroo.com
Jess was one of my first Flickr friends and he is an amazingly talented young wildlife photographer from B.C. He has won lots of awards for his work. I have one of his barred owl photos in my room. I really like Jess’s style it’s very different and it inspires me to think about my composition naturally in the camera, using elements in the image to draw attention to the subject. You can learn more about Jess here: http://www.jessfindlay.com
M was our expedition leader on a recent family trip to Alaska. She knows a lot about climate change and glaciers. I had a lot of fun with M on our trip and she taught me to use photography to tell stories. Photos can connect people if there’s a story and a message, and they can also bring positive change. You can learn more about M here: http://www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/experts/m-jackson/detail