Residing in South Florida, nature artist Gloria Hopkins paints and photographs lush landscapes of various locations in the United States. She recently completed her first online book titled, Natural Design: Image Design for Nature Photographers.
What prompted you to take on such a complex topic for your first book?
When I began learning about art at a young age, image composition was a concept that was difficult for me to grasp. There were no art schools for seven year-olds, so I had to learn about it on my own and this took many years.
After discovering photography in 2000, I realized that the concepts of image design were the same for painting and photography, but few books existed that showed a photographer, practically, how to put together a composition.
I soon found a few online photo critique forums and fellow members would respond with great enthusiasm when I would address the design aspects of their images. I realized that they were going through the exact same struggles with image design that I went through with painting all those years ago. Natural Design was conceived to help clarify the topic for photographers while allowing me to write about my favorite topics.
Explain to our readers what the typical day in the life of Gloria Hopkins was like during the writing of this book? How long did it take to complete?
I began writing Natural Design in 2003 and it took me five years to complete. During the first two years I was employed full time and I had to work on the book at night and on the weekends, which I did faithfully. After leaving the office environment in 2005 I went to work on the book full time.
I spent many days at libraries studying every book I could find on art, design and photography. Other days were spent in the studio writing, editing and pouring over thousands of photographs. I would often paint at night, just to clear my head of the book, and for a change of pace. The days were long and sometimes it seemed there was no end in sight for the book and the non-paying, thankless work.
But I had Natural Design envisioned in my mind and I knew that it was an important book to write. It was self discipline, personal drive, and my love of writing and image-making that kept me going. The long days and nights were well worth it. Selling my first book was the single most satisfying moment of my professional life.
How have you been promoting this book?
The book was just made available in June ’08 and I have to confess that aside from a little affiliate marketing program I have just set up, and my new Google Adwords campaign, the only marketing effort I have made is displaying it on my website. I’m thrilled to say that the book is selling steadily through word-of-mouth, and I am enjoying a nice, long vacation.
How do you feel about photographers who don’t comply with park rules such as harassing wildlife or wandering off-trail?
I wish they would consider all of the consequences of their actions and not just the obvious. In addition to the clear lack of respect for the law and the authority of property management, those who break the rules disregard their own reputations as well. Not only that, they are toying dangerously with the reputations of all nature photographers.
Because we carry big gear we tend to be viewed as a group. Fair or not, that’s the way it is. And the bad behavior of one can and often does reflect negatively on all of us. Because we represent each other, in the interest of conducting ourselves professionally, and in order to establish and nurture good relations with park personnel, we should always be respectful in the field.
Any photography announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
Photo Design: Image Design for Photographers is already in the works. Also, I’ve been planning a six-month relocation “dream trip” from Florida back to the West in the next few years, of course photographing the whole way. My landscapes portfolio needs some new additions and I can’t wait to get out there with the cameras.
Most certainly a book will be written about the trip. From now until then I am working on securing the vehicle and financing for the trip, which is another reason for writing Natural Design and the forthcoming Photo Design.
You are most welcome, and thank you Richard!
To see more of Gloria Hopkins’ art, check out her website at: www.gloriahopkins.com
Residing in the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, nature and children’s sports photographer Leann Greene is a busy, working mother of three. Find out how she does it.
Many hobbyist photographers can probably relate to you in addition to people who are thinking about having children. How are you able to manage your desire to photograph nature while maintaining such a busy personal life?
I need the outdoor photography as “me” time as I always feel recharged after spending the time on what I want and having tangible results. Of course you have to make some concessions but if you want it enough you can do it. I have no other hobbies so I don’t feel I’m being selfish in a way that detracts from my family.
The majority of nature photographers are men so how does it feel to be a woman in this testosterone-driven genre?
I think nature photography and especially landscapes can use the female perspective. The men I have photographed with are enthusiasts also and I’d say there is a “prove yourself” period that quickly fades away when your shared appreciation of the outdoors takes over. I enjoy hanging out with the guys and picking their brain about tactics and methods. I don’t know if many men feel comfortable asking the same of women photographers.
Name some female photographers that inspire you.
Lori Kincaid and Alison Shaw are two female photographers that I’d like to emulate.
Given your experience with outdoor recreation, share some general safety advice for the female readers of this blog.
Don’t worry about looking fashionable. Safety is the top priority. Make sure you have the right footwear for the outdoors. I have been in fear for people walking across rocks in everyday street shoes. Comfortable & functional pants can make a difference also because you may need to make deep knee bends or climb up big steps. So I prefer cargo pants.
I enjoy outings by myself so I can’t preach about not going out by yourself but one thing I’ve learned is always heed your intuition if you have an uneasy feeling about something or a situation. I have left early upon occasion when people or the weather conditions have given me a bad vibe.
As a life-long California resident, game hunting is not a common form of recreation in my region. However, it is a popular form of recreation in some states like North Carolina. So what does someone like me need to know to avoid getting shot at by hunters while photographing or hiking out in the woods?
First of all, you need to know the boundaries of the areas that you’re in. Game lands in North Carolina are marked by signs on trees but are also very easy to research online. The seasons for each county are also easy to research online.
Try not to be so quiet when hiking because wildlife will think you are a predator and hunters may also think you are game. If you are out during a hunting season then be sure to wear some hunter’s orange! Also don’t mock the hunters – duh! Overall though, everyone I’ve met is friendly and excited to be outdoors also.
You recently went on a wildlife photography excursion to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, with Cindy Nowlin, another nature photographer from your region. Tell us about the experience.
We planned our trip to find young whitetail fawns. Cindy is extremely familiar with the Cades Cove section of the park. For fawns, we actually didn’t feel the need to line up at the gate before sunrise since they wouldn’t be out and about until later in the morning and later in the afternoon. We were open to whatever was presented to us in terms of animals or scenery and filled our days with walking and exploring the park. With patience we were able to track the behavioral patterns of some does and fawns for some nice photographs.
You are a two-time winner of the Friends of the Wilson Creek Photo Contest and came in 2nd place in 2007. Developers recently took an interest to the Wilson Creek Wilderness Area, but they encountered some opposition. What is the current status of Wilson Creek now and what would the preservation of this area mean to you?
It turns out the land owners hoped a non-developer would want to purchase their land adjacent to the wilderness area. The actual wilderness area wasn’t for sale but land also along the creek was offered for sale. A developer was interested but their bid was rejected after much public outcry. The family did accept an offer from the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina and the Wildlife Resources Commission. Hopefully they will be able to secure the funds by the deadline of December, 2009.
For me, it’s one of those places where you can really feel away from it all yet still be close to home. Kayakers, fisherman, swimmers all benefit from the deal. It offers many free activities so why should only the affluent get all the good spots?
No arguments from me about that. So are there any photography announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
I’m taking a class on photographing people so I can offer high-quality outdoor portraits and combine my affection for the outdoors with a service to sell.
To see more of Leann Greene’s photography, check out her website at: http://www.lgimage.com
Professional agricultural stock photographer, inga spence is based in Northern Nevada. Having specialized in this niche for several decades, Spence has successfully evolved along with the industry. Let’s get her insights on the evolution of stock photography.
Did you have an interest in the agriculture industry prior to taking up photography, or were there other reasons for specializing in this niche?
I was definitely interested and attracted to ‘Agriculture’ prior to getting involved in photography… so I felt quite comfortable working in this field.
There’s been a lot of griping from pros that have seen licensing rates drop significantly over the past five to ten years. How has this impacted the way that you approach the business?
I feel that the main reason that licensing rates dropped is because certain large agencies have reduced their rates considerably, not considering the photographer. If there was a cohesive approach on this issue, the rates would stay the same, or should increase. Considering how the cost of equipment and travel expenses have risen, not to mention that these agencies are now dealing with digital files and their cost of converting 35mm is no more. (In other words, agencies should have better commission rates for the contributors)
You’ve spent many years to build up a significant library of images in both the 35mm and digital formats. Producing a body of work like this surely doesn’t come without costs. So what is your opinion about aspiring professional photographers that believe that a good way to get ahead is by giving images away for free in exchange for a photo credit?
Certain photographers are willing to ‘sell/give away’ at any cost not realizing that the end result will also hurt them in the future… degrading the whole profession… tearsheets are an item of the past. I believe that photo buyers don’t really look at credits. It’s the image that counts.
Should hobbyists care about valuing their work even if they have a day job to pay the bills?
YES, definitely. Many a great and present ‘professional photographers’ started photography because they enjoyed it. If the shoe was on the other foot, the hobbyist most likely would feel different. Many pros are still working other jobs in order to follow their dream…
Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
After some 20+ years in agriculture, photographing worldwide (but not completely limited to that specialty). I am really interested to become more diversified. But agriculture will always be a part of me…
I appreciate the opportunity to express my feelings.
Professional outdoor adventure and lifestyle photographer, Sherri Meyer is based out of the historic, Sierra Nevada Foothills gold mining town of Auburn, California. Having access to the Sierras as her backyard, she has photographed a variety of adventure sports such as kayaking, marathon running and off-roading. Here are her thoughts on the current state of the stock photography industry:
I noticed that a number of your images appear to be of the baby-boomer generation. From what I have read, this is a category that is in demand and under-photographed so was it a conscious business decision of yours to photograph this demographic?
The main reason I photograph “Baby Boomers” is because I am one and most of the people I know are too. Some of them have become regular models for my photography. But, it is also a fact that photos of this generation are of high demand and in low supply. That is the other reason why I focus mainly on the “Boomer” generation. The “Baby Boomer” generation is the largest segment of the population. So why is there such a low supply of photos of them? Go figure! By the way, according to the publishing industry, you are also considered a senior if you are 50 plus. Photos of seniors are also of high demand and in low supply.
From a business perspective, what would you like to photograph that you haven’t already?
I would like to Photograph for REI and Title Nine. I would love to have my attractive and fit “Baby Boomer” models featured in their catalogs. Title Nine does use women of all ages in their catalogs, but REI seems to focus on children and models in their 20’s and 30’s. I really think they are missing the boat by not featuring older models in their catalog also. I would like to change that. Since the “Baby Boomer” generation is the largest segment of the population that means they also spend the most money for products [and typically have the most disposable income.] Therefore, they also deserve to be part of their marketing program! I would also like to do some food product photography. Every month, I pick up the Raley’s “Something Extra” magazine where I shop. It’s a free publication they put out for their customers. It’s full of recipes, accompanied with outstanding food photographs. I love looking at the photos and thinking that is something I would like photograph. Also, one of my sisters photographed food years ago, for the natural food company she and I worked for. I always admired her work. That may be where it all started.
Business reasons aside, what would you like to photograph that you haven’t already?
Cowboys. I have always been attracted to photographs of cowboys. I have stayed at a dude ranch and photographed cowboys, as well as other activities that go on at a dude ranch. I have also photographed rodeos and cowboys performing various other ranch duties. But, what I would really love to do is go on and photograph a real cattle drive. I would also love to photograph singer/songwriters Emmy Lou Harris and Jimmy Buffett, two of my all-time favorites.
When dealing with a client directly, is there a minimum price that you set for negotiations?
Absolutely. Our fees are negotiable; however our minimum fee for any usage is $150.00.
When a potential client inquires about the use of an image and claims to have no budget for photos, there are some amateur photographers out there that are willing to give the client unlimited use of the image for free in exchange for a credit. They generally believe one of two things: 1. it will lead to a higher paying transaction in the future, 2. they only care about seeing their work published so they can brag about it. How do you feel about this?
I don’t think anyone should give their work away for any purpose, period. If your work is good enough to use for free, then it’s good enough to charge for! Richard, this question really hits my hot button. I’m giving you my short answer to this question for now, but I would love to write more in a future post.
Without naming names, tell us about a client from hell type of story.
I have worked with more than one client from h**l and they all have something in common. They have no respect! The three that come to mind were back in my earlier days and they were all regional, low paying markets. One of them was a brand new magazine. The editor knew nothing about working with photographers. I had to educate him about everything. Then, when one of his employees left on bad terms, she left with a CD of my images. Who knows where they ended up? I had another editor lose 4 of my [slides.] After contacting him several times, I managed to get all but one back. One of them was “nowhere” to be found until I sent him a bill for $1500.00. The next day, it was found. Amazing isn’t it? Then, there was the client that lost a whole submission consisting of 40 slides. I billed him also for $1500.00 per image. Soon thereafter, the images were recovered. I didn’t stop there, however. I did get compensated for the inconvenience of it all. The biggest problem with this type of client is they get treated the same way a good paying respectful client gets treated.
I noticed that you recently switched from the Photoshelter Archive to hosting your own Lightbox photo archive. What factored in your decision to do so?
There are a couple of reasons why I chose to go with Lightbox Photo over PhotoShelter for archiving my images. First, I wanted to have my images on my server rather than someone else’s. It’s more expensive to use Lightbox and there is a huge learning curve to setting up the galleries, but the benefits are worth it. I feel like I have a lot more control of my images, I’m getting more traffic and uploading images is much faster. Don’t get me wrong. I love PhotoShelter. I think they are one of the “best bangs for your buck” out there. I do still use their basic service and I plan to contribute to the new PhotoShelter Collection (PSC) very soon.
Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?
I don’t really have anything in the hopper right now, but there are a couple of things I would like to do down the road. I would like to publish a coffee table photography book featuring photos of… We will keep that a secret for now. Also, I would like to teach photo workshops and maybe do a little consulting. I did teach a few classes a couple of years ago which included a photo workshop through the adult education program here in Auburn.
Thanks Sherri. You’ve provided some great insights for the rest of us to ponder.
See more of Sherri Meyer’s work at: http://www.sherrimeyer.com