Blog

How I Became a Wildlife Photographer

Desert Floods in Wadi Og, Israel 2016

Desert Floods in Wadi Og, Israel 2016

I'm so excited to share my adventures and experiences as a wildlife photographer with you in this blog! The question I'm most often asked is, "How did I become a wildlife photographer?"

First, I've always loved and “lived for” animals—ever since I was a kid. I remember when I was 5 years old, I'd feed the stray kittens on my street. Or, when I was 13, I joined the hiking club at my school; but while everyone else was admiring the mountains and valleys, I was busy looking under the rocks for snakes and scorpions…

Even then, I knew I wanted to work with animals when I grew up. So, while working a full-time job and raising my two kids, I attended veterinary school and received my diploma in 2002. I dreamed of becoming a wildlife veterinarian, but practicing in New York City makes this a bit difficult, so I treat primarily dogs and cats.

 
At work with one of my favorite clients, Raina

At work with one of my favorite clients, Raina

 

The next ingredients any wildlife photographer needs are a deep love, respect and curiosity for nature and seeing new places. During a hiking trip to South America in 1995, I was “infected” with the “travel bug”. Since then, I've made it my mission to see and experience as many places as possible, especially those that have wildlife.

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust - Nairobi, Kenya 2011

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust - Nairobi, Kenya 2011

The last part of the equation is a passion for photography. I've always liked it, but never studied it in a serious way until I bought my first "zoom-y" camera before a safari trip to Kenya with my son and my best friend. That was one of the most special trips of my life. I discovered that, because I'm a veterinarian and know animals so well, I'm able to anticipate their behavior and capture some very special moments. Unfortunately, when I got home I saw that—even though I got some incredible shots—the image quality wasn't there. So I invested in a better camera, and taught myself the basics of photography. The more I learned and practiced, the more I fell in love with it, and the better I became. When one of my shots, “Near and Far”, was selected by National Geographic as their Photo of the Day, I was inspired to take things to the next level and make the transition from amateur to professional photographer.

"Near and Far" photographed in Serengeti, Tanzania 2014

If you combine all my passions—animals, traveling and photography—it's only natural that I became a wildlife photographer. I see this as another way of helping animals—the ones I can't treat medically. There are so many animals, like lions and tigers, elephants and even giraffes, that need our help to survive. I hope that, through my lens, people will connect to them on a spiritual level and be inspired to do whatever they can to help and protect both animals and their habitats.

"Ever Hopeful" photographed in Serengeti, Tanzania 2016

"Ever Hopeful" photographed in Serengeti, Tanzania 2016

I'm proud to partner with The Humane Society of New York, Born Free USA and PAMS in Tanzania by donating my photography or a portion of the profits from my online store to their conservation efforts. I also have a "JOIN" page on my site where you can get involved with different conservation organizations. I truly believe that, together, we can make a difference.

Event at The Hemingway African Art Gallery honoring The Humane Society of New York 2015

Event at The Hemingway African Art Gallery honoring The Humane Society of New York 2015

In my next post, I'll share one of the greatest moments from my recent trip to Tanzania – the morning exercise of a pride of lions....Stay tuned!