Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography


Nature photographer, Younes Bounhar recently interviewed me about the topic of social media. You can check out the interview on his blog –

Twitter for Photographers: An Interview with Richard Wong.


May 22, 2009 Posted by | Interviews, Web | , , | Leave a comment

North Carolina Outdoor Photographer, Leann Greene Interview

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.

Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

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.

Mountain Laurel Blooms, Lake James, North Carolina

Mountain Laurel Blooms, Lake James State Park, North Carolina

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.

Bull Elk Salad at Cataloochee Valley, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Bull Elk Salad at Cataloochee Valley, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

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.

Thanks Leann!

To see more of Leann Greene’s photography, check out her website at:

August 15, 2008 Posted by | Interviews, Photographers | , , , , | 9 Comments

San Francisco Photographer, Jim Goldstein Interview

San Francisco-based nature photographer and independent photojournalist, Jim Goldstein’s images have appeared in the Washington Post, Sierra Club, Future Snowboarding magazine,,, and a variety of other publications. Goldstein has also made a name for himself by writing about a number of controversial topics on his photography blog, JMG-Galleries.

You seem to know how to touch a nerve within the online photography community, as evidence by the 200 comments that you received on a blog post recently. What is the philosophy behind your blog?

The goal of my blog is two fold to introduce people to… 1. great photography and 2. issues that face photographers as well as society at large. In that sense I try to show not just how photography has an impact on viewers and our culture, but how culture and viewers have an impact on photography.

Would you say that your background in web marketing has played a part in being so well-connected to the online community?

Not to be disrespectful in any way as this question made me chuckle. I get a laugh out of this question mostly because when I think of an answer to this question I think about how long I’ve been online and how old that makes me feel. I’ve been actively posting photographs to the Internet for over 10 years and have been active in online discussions before the web browser came into being. In that sense I think my interest in photography and its display online has transcended my web-marketing career. Clearly my background in web-marketing has helped me stay in the know about various types of technologies/services and how they can be used from a marketing perspective. Ultimately I think it is my long tenure online and active participation that has helped me best keep the pulse of the online photographic community.

You once went on a lengthy photo excursion up to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with renowned nature photographer, Art Wolfe, while he was filming his TV show. The images you came back with are stunning, especially of the caribou migration. What would the preservation of ANWR mean to you?

Thanks Richard its great to hear that my photographs had an impact.

To me, no pun intended, the Arctic Refuge (AKA ANWR) is the tip of the iceberg. The Arctic Refuge represents the first of many dominos that when knocked down will forever change how our protected lands and wildlife will be managed and preserved. Sadly the war of words has transformed how we even talk about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The next time you listen to a debate about this one wildlife refuge take note of the terms used. “ANWR” it completely removes the correlation to “wildlife”. “ANWR” it becomes devoid of anything meaningful just as those who want to drill this region see it. It is a wildlife refuge and people seem to forget this in day-to-day discussion. People are also unaware that “wilderness areas” have the greatest degree of protection of any federally protected land, even more than national parks. No manmade elements, no roads, no buildings, nothing can be built in these areas to provide the greatest level of protection possible to the wildlife that live and migrate through these areas.

I was very lucky in being able to travel to this region with Art Wolfe and other conservationists. The trip opened my eyes even more to the plight of this area. Since this trip it has become clear to me that there has been a systematic effort in the past eight years to weaken the protection of our protected lands in a desperate effort to reach the last pockets of undeveloped natural resources including oil, timber, precious metals, minerals and even the commodity of land to cut costs for energy companies to run power lines from point A to B. Although President Eisenhower signed the legislation establishing the boundaries of the Arctic Refuge it is President Teddy Roosevelt that helped solidify the value and interest of protected lands to the greater population. These lands were protected for a reason and in the case of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge it protects the last pocket of migratory wildlife that rivals what most associate with the plains of Africa.

Permanent preservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that is home to 36 fish species, 36 land mammals, nine marine mammals, and more than 160 migratory and resident bird species would mean a big and meaningful step forward in how the last of our wild lands are protected.

San Francisco is a pretty wacky place and you have photographed events like Bring Your Own Big Wheel as well as the Folsom Street Fair. Is there anything in the city that you haven’t photographed that interests you?

The great thing about San Francisco is that it is so incredibly diverse and open. The photographic opportunities are endless. With an open mind every event is a photographic opportunity. I personally would enjoy photographing more political rallies as well as some of the more eclectic events that pop up from time to time. Bring Your Own Big Wheel is a perfect example of the more random, eclectic and fun events that pop up. Seeing grown adults revert back to big kids riding plastic wheeled tricycles down a curvy San Francisco hillside road would make anyone smile or laugh.

Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?

I have several photographic projects underway, but the most noteworthy item to mention is the recent kickoff of a series of photo tours that I’m putting together. The first photo tour I have lined up is the Sea Otters of California Photo Tour in early September of 2008. For those interested in wildlife photography this is a great day trip to photograph and learn about California Sea Otters. I’ll have more photo tour announcements coming soon on my blog.

Lastly I’m happy to announce that one of my photographs has been selected to be shown at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle as part of the 2008 International Conservation Photography Awards. If your readers are in the Seattle area some great conservation oriented photography will be on display there as part of this program from August 30, 2008 until October 12, 2008.


August 11, 2008 Posted by | Interviews, Photographers | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Agriculture Photographer, inga spence Interview

Cows on Farm, Del Norte County, California
Cows on Farm, Del Norte County, California

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.

Red Garlic

Red Garlic

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…

Hiker in Foggy Old-Growth Redwood Forest, Del Norte County, California

Hiker in Foggy Old-Growth Redwood Forest, Del Norte County, California

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.


inga spence photographer

August 8, 2008 Posted by | Interviews, Photographers, stock photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Interview with Advertising Art Director, Kaleena Tucker

After just a few years in the advertising industry, Nashville, Tennessee-based art director Kaleena Tucker has already received accolades from the ADDY’s, One Show Student Competition and the Young Guns International Ad Competition. Find out what she has to say about photography.

How to get your book seen by ad agency art buyers is a source of endless debate amongst professional photographers. So set the record straight by telling us what methods a photographer can do to get your attention and keep it?

I’ve always been amazed at how many photography samples the average Art Director receives on a daily basis. Whether postcard-size, full-page prints, or booklets, most samples get thrown in the trash. Many without a second look. And it’s not because it’s bad photography. Most of the time it’s beautiful. The problem is, where do you put all of these postcards and work samples? It’s like getting coupons in the mail. They may be useful, but after so many, you just start trashing them. The 5% that get kept are the ones that use non-traditional methods and do something really cool. For example, I like to put cool stuff up on my office wall, so… if I get something fun in the mail from a photographer, it goes on my wall. As far as what works, I’d have to say that cold calling works. I know it sucks. But, a photography/illustration rep was able to set up a 30-minute showcase in our creative department just by giving me a call one morning. Emails easily get ignored. Mail mostly gets trashed. But, most phone calls get answered. I’d say that’s the way to go.

What has been your process for choosing a photographer to work with?

Most of the time, I go to the agency’s print production department, tell them what kind of style I’m looking for and ask them for any suggestions. In addition to that, I scour the Internet, and go through photography books to look for someone whose style fits what I’m looking for. Do they do a lot of indoor shooting? Are they good at lighting? Etc…

Where do you typically go when looking for stock photos? Do you ever look for photos on Flickr or Google?

No, Flickr and Google are only good if you’re looking for reference materials. In my experience, if you’re looking for something to actually use, it’s a complete waste of time. An agency’s clients have to be able to buy the image. Most of the images on Google and Flickr are a hassle to figure out ownership/rights. I use the big stock sites: Getty, Corbis, JupiterImages, etc. I know that I can usually find something useable.

Would there be occasional exceptions to this, say if the photographer had a website that was set-up for e-commerce licensing transactions similar to a Getty or Corbis, or if their bio listed a slew of big-name publishing credits such as National Geographic, Time, Ogilvy & Mather, etc…?

Yes it’s definitely possible that while you’re searching for reference materials/images, you may stumble across a photographer’s site who’s done some cool stuff and offers great stock photography. But honestly, I rarely seek out individual photographers that provide these services. It’s like, if you’re trying to meet someone to date. Your chances of finding someone at the company party, or at a bar is greater than running into someone on the street. It’s a numbers game. That’s what’s great about the big stock houses. It’s like a big online bar of drunken photographers waiting to be taken home.

(Alcohol. Does a body good.)

When you are doing a stock photo search, does it make a difference to you whether or not the image is rights-managed or royalty-free?

Absolutely! That is the number one question I ask my Account Manager. What kind of budget do we have? Do we have to get something royalty-free, or can we afford rights-managed? Again, no need to waste time finding a great image that the client can’t afford. Money matters. Budgets are real. Especially to smaller clients.

Aside from art direction reasons, what type of photography do you enjoy looking at the most?

I like a lot of classic black and white photography with simple imagery. I find that I’m much more captivated by a single subject, rather than photography with a lot going on.

I’d like to thank Kaleena for her time and insightful responses to these questions. Hopefully you’ve found this information to be useful for your own photo business.

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Interviews, Marketing, stock photography | , , , | 8 Comments