This fall we're collaborating with several photographers in our hunting, fishing and outdoor community to bring you their insights for taking better images in the field. Taking photos that capture the spirit of our public lands and waters - and the experiences we have on them - is essential in communicating the value of our wild landscapes and the richness of our outdoor pursuits to the greater public. Whether you choose to publish your images in your own channels or support BHA's mission by submitting them to the 2020 Public Land Owner Photo Contest, we hope you enjoy this series. In this installment we hear from Shane Patrick Mahoney, president of Conservation Visions and Founder of the Wild Harvest Initiative®. Shane is an avid, amateur photographer and an internationally recognized conservationist and wildlife advocate, and is considered a foremost expert on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
Text and Photos by Shane P. Mahoney
It is not hard to find advice on field photography and with today’s cameras, capturing clear images of the natural world, wildlife included, is not as technically demanding as it used to be. But, ultimately, what is captured by the camera depends upon what the photographer perceives to be of value, and what we value is a very personal thing.
What we value, however, can be modified by experience, the range and details refracted and reassembled by the lens of time and acquaintance. Being open to the moment and immersing yourself in the cadence of nature is, for the amateur and the professional, the first and most important step to creating photos that will speak not only to you personally but will actually speak aboutyou to others you know and connect with. Nothing less than intimacy can really sharpen your capacity to capture nature’s layered expressions and moods. And meeting nature on her terms – in wind and rain, in early frosted light or under breezing sunsets dancing with warm color – this cannot be contrived. You must live the reality!
Slowing down in nature and looking for the smaller details that make the broader canvass so enticing provides a sense of connectivity that helps drive the creative process
Equally as critical, is teaching yourself to feel and live at scale. Nature is an unending vista and often the eye is drawn to the broad expanse or the most vital image within a field of view, a herd of elk, for example, or a waterfall. But slowing down in nature and looking for the smaller details that make the broader canvass so enticing provides a sense of connectivity that helps drive the creative process. It may not be the sea of wind-blown grass but the insect preening itself while clinging to the swaying stem that is the most vital connection within your field of view. Learning to always look for the worlds beneath your gaze or from the perspective of other life forms will unfold an entirely new way of seeing and photographing the world around you.
Nature is a tantalizing presence and she will never offer the same prospect twice, not in a million lifetimes. So, remember; always be ready to capture what, with a moment’s hesitation, can be lost forever. The greatest regret in photography is the image not taken.
To learn more about Shane Mahoney and the work of Conservation Visions, click here.