The Great Journey in Photography

Century Mark

Giant Osprey stare down

300mm f5.6 320iso 1/500sec

This post marks the 100th episode of the Diary of a Bird Shooter Blog. For over 2 years now I have been trying to relay my experiences and photography knowledge I have picked up along the way. It has been great, but it is now time to do away with the “Look what I can Do” mindset and transition into a more polished, responsible and hopefully more informative role. A while back I wrote a story titled “So Say You- Truth About Zoos”, you can read it here. Today I feel the need to moderate some of my views expressed in that post.

Juan Pons is a wildlife photographer whose work I admire very much. He is very passionate about never photographing animals in captivity. I have met Juan and I am certain that his passion is sincere but I do have my reservations. He directs us to a wonderfully detailed story from the Audubon Magazine titled “Picture Perfect”. It is a story about the realities of photographing wildlife from game farms and the business of distributing and selling images made from captive wildlife. You need to read it here. As you might expect photographing captive animals it is viewed in a negative light. I know there are crazy over the top environmentalists out there whose sole purpose in life is to separate nature from humanity. I have always held a grudge against those people, but the thought of applying journalistic standards to wildlife photography seems to have great merit.

I don’t think the line is as clear as we would all like those standards to be though. I know a lot of us want to do the right thing but can be duped, some of us would like to do the right thing but don’t always do it, and a few of us don’t care about the right thing, they just want what they want. Then the bigger problem is What exactly is the right thing? For example, I have photographed a number of birds that are rescue animals, they would not be alive if it were not for their “captors”. Is that over the line? I get nervous when I see giraffes in a compound only about a quarter of a football field in size but I have also photographed small birds that were kept in an enclosure the size of a football stadium. Is that really considered captive?..and on the other side of the coin I have photographed birds in the wild that were so tame and domesticated that you could literally pet them.

As with many things there is no absolute right and wrong, but the important thing is that we all think about what we are doing. To understand that it is not responsible to get the shot by any means necessary. I am not one for full disclosure of captive images either. I think it is in conflict with virtually every other genre of photography (except journalism) where greatest reward is given to those who create a look or illusion to the viewer’s eye and mind through lighting, staging, and post production. Perhaps the better solution is to be mindful that such images should convey the proper context of  the surroundings.

As we think about these things we all need to set our own personal policies and standards and live within them. The big thing to remember is that you really can do whatever you want with very little consequence but as I like to say a lot now “The Best Way To Get Good is By Being Good”. After giving it a lot of consideration I am leaning in the same direction as Juan.

I hope this gives you all some food for thought, and thanks to Juan Pons for his wonderful real life wildlife images and to Audubon Magazine for the great story, and thanks to everyone who is reading the blog. Here is to the next hundred!!

You can see more of my bird images at


One response

  1. So glad I came across this post! (I am a WordPress photographer too) Beautiful photo, I love the colors, and the bird’s funny expression!

    March 2, 2012 at 8:26 am

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