Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

Florida Nature Artist, Gloria Hopkins Interview

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.

Red Fox, Island Beach State Park, New Jersey

Red Fox, Island Beach State Park, New Jersey

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.

Waipio Valley, Hawaii

Waipio Valley, Hawaii

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.

Red-crowned (Japanese) Cranes Dance, Oil on Canvas

Red-crowned (Japanese) Cranes Dance, Oil on Canvas

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.

Thanks Gloria!

You are most welcome, and thank you Richard!

To see more of Gloria Hopkins’ art, check out her website at:


August 22, 2008 Posted by | Interviews, Photographers | , , , , | 2 Comments