That Extra Mile

Me3 By S. J. Brown

Wildlife photographers have been getting a bit of extra exposure lately through television commercials and also after a biting letter to some individuals who are occupying a wildlife refuge. I would like to join the ranks of those photographers who have shared what it is really like to photograph wildlife.

Yes there are easy shots we take at parks and zoos where the critters are accustomed to people

Wood Duck

Then there are other shots we work for. This is when a photographer needs more than just skill knowledge and a bit of luck.  Wildlife photographers need to be passionate about what they do.  You need to ask yourself how bad do I want these images, what are my chances of getting the shots, and how can I increase my chances?

I traveled from West Virginia to Maine in hopes of getting a few photographs of a moose. After spending several days searching my target area I chose to travel further north in my quest.  When Jay and I arrived at our new destination it began to rain.  Undeterred I covered my camera, pulled out a poncho and ventured into the woods.  My persistence was rewarded, this time.


I have traveled to a location in North Carolina repeatedly in an attempt to capture a red wolf on film. No you won’t find a photo of a red wolf here.  Their numbers are few and they are shy.  But my quest will continue.  I have been rewarded with images of black bears in that same area.


Wildlife photography is about more than just the images. It is about a connection to the animals and their world.  It is a connection with nature that is part of us.  Our desire to experience and share that connection is why we do what we do.


Cold, rain, mud, heat, height, and wind don’t deter us. Yes we are a touch breed. We will fiercely defend the creatures we photograph and the wild lands they call home. Most of us have been snarled at, charged and lost on more than one occasion. However to me having the privilege of looking a wild creature in the eye and recording it to share with others makes it all worth it.  Why do I share?  I share my images to help others to respect wildlife, to introduce people to my world.  Yes, I sell my images but my goal isn’t to get rich or famous.  My goal is to make enough money to go out and do it again.

What makes you go that extra mile, endure a little more, and strive a little harder?

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23 thoughts on “That Extra Mile

  1. Lovely post, S.J. May you continue to make enough to get back out there and photograph some new targets (hopefully even a whole lot more to ensure good equipment). Your photography is soothing- even when the creature is known to be a fierce one- simply because they really are in their own environment.


  2. As always, a wonderful post and even more beautiful pictures. Thank you.

    For me, and this will come as no surprise, it’s my students. They keep me excited and alive. But now that I’ve taken up writing seriously, I’m quite passionate about it too.


  3. Your quest to capture the hard-to-get photo of an elusive animal is so captivating to me. I’ve always deeply respected photographers. The best part of looking at National Geographic was always for me the photos, be they wildlife shots or photos of people living their lives in foreign lands.


    1. Sometimes the hardest subjects are common critters like butterflies. Feedback from my readers is leading me to complete a project I started a few years ago. In Close Ups & Close Encounters the focus was on me and my experiences in the field, this project focuses strictly on the critters. Like you many people enjoy the images over the text.


  4. When we find our passion, nothing can deter us from making that journey. I think it is so wonderful that you’ve found yours and can follow that dream. Keep on, for it is where your heart is. Doris


  5. As always, I admire your work and your persistence, SJ. I, too, love nature and wish I was a better photographer. One of the reasons I enjoy living in the west is the diverse wildlife we have and the proximity to America’s national parks. My husband and I hope to invest in a new, more decent camera to be able to better capture the wildlife around us. Like you, I have a strong connection to nature and I’d love to be able to better capture critters on film. Thanks for sharing with us!


    1. I started with a camera that was less than $100. Then I invested in an extra lens, then, another lens, then another camera. I actually use cameras that are rather old by most peoples standards. The most important thing I can tell any photographer is get out there and shoot.


  6. I think any great creativity, such as being a writer or photographer, has to come from an inner passion if it’s going to move the viewer and draw them into the creation, whatever it is. You obviously have that inner passion. Love your photos. And admire the patience you must have to get them.


  7. “However to me having the privilege of looking a wild creature in the eye and recording it to share with others makes it all worth it.”

    It’s also a privilege to see your photographs. The relationship you have with the wild animals is really special. Thanks for your post.


    1. I really do think of it as a relationship and a privilege. If they take a minute to evaluate their situation they know I don’t mean them any harm. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.


  8. Lovely post S.J. You have definitely gotten some premier shots and I know they weren’t all easy, close to home, or standing while you took the shot. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing talent with us. I love seeing your photos!


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