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RSW Living Magazine

Picture Perfect: 5 SWFL Photographers Allow Cameras to Tell Their Stories

Aug 28, 2017 06:08PM ● Published by Kevin

Photo courtesy of Clyde Butcher.

There are too many of us with a cell phone or a point-and-shoot camera, let alone hundreds of photojournalists, landscape, artistic or otherwise creative professional and amateur photographers in Southwest Florida. That’s why it’s not possible to choose a “Best of Guide” in photography. So TOTI Media has picked a handful of those representing the creativity and originality of Florida visualists:  

Mila Bridger

Marco Island
 
TOTI Media: Formal training?

Mila Bridger:
“Yes … started with a darkroom [with my grandfather] when I was 7 years old, and right then my mum signed me up for [after-school] art school that I would attend for several years. When I switched to digital medium, I went to St. Lawrence College [Ontario, Canada] for photography class. I never stop learning. I sign up and attend different workshops around [the] USA all the time.”

TM:
Favorite place to shoot photos? 

MB:
“It’s in my studio, now. And around my home. My garden is a great place for some type of shoots.”

TM:
Tips for telling the best story? 

MB:
“Should be stylistically the same and should be moving and speaking to the society, in one way or another. The photo doesn’t work if you have to explain the story.”

TM:
Better to let photos happen? 

MB:
“For me, it’s the setup. I dream and sketch the image from my head on the appearance and then I try to set up the way I imagined it. Of course during the setup and photo shoot things can change the directions … and that’s good, too.”

TM:
Out of a hundred shots, how many do you keep? 

MB:
“Depends on the assignment … but for my own work, I want that one perfect image.”

Nick Adams

Sanibel
 
Photo courtesy of Nick Adams.
TOTI Media: Formal training?

Nick Adams:
“Some … but I would say I am mainly self-trained. I spent lots of time and money going to trade shows and courses with a British organization called MPA (Master Photographers Association). My uncle, John Adams, was a celebrity and glamour photographer in the 1960s, ’70s and early ’80s. He did more for my photography career than anyone; he was a huge inspiration.”

TM:
Tips for telling the best story?

NA:
“With people, it’s all about expression. The face will speak a thousand words in a photograph; trying to get natural expressions is a skill that I am still trying to perfect, even after 22 years as a professional photographer. With landscapes, it’s more about putting yourself in the right place at the right time to get a perfect shot. Generally, you need to be active at sunrise and sunset and you need to capture the unusual, whether it’s a spectacular cloud formation or a magnificent sunset. The same applies to wildlife photography—go to the places others won’t, work either end of the day and you will need to have a superhero’s portion of patience.”

TM:
Better to let photos happen?

NA:
“The photography business is filled with deadlines, inclement weather and other diversities, so it is not always possible to wait. I am a firm believer that you earn your money as a photographer the most when the situation is not ideal [which happens to be most of the time].”

TM:
Favorite place to shoot?

NA:
“Anywhere new, I like to keep things fresh. When I shoot at a location that I have been to before, I try to challenge myself to find new and different angles that I haven’t taken before.”

Dennis Gingerich

Cape Coral
www.gingerichphotoart.com
 
Photo courtesy of Dennis Gingerich.
TOTI Media: Best training moment?

Dennis Gingerich:
“I spent five days learning from a professional landscape photographer in Glacier National Park. From before sunrise to after sunset, myself and five other photographers hiked with our instructor all over the park learning the fine art of composition, lighting, camera settings and then post-processing our images.”

TM:
Favorite place to shoot photos? 

DG:
“I was born in the beautiful state of Oregon, have traveled to 49 states, to dozens of countries around the globe, and yet there is no place quite like Lee County in Southwest Florida.  I love to shoot on our barrier islands with the water reflecting the colorful clouds at sunset.”

TM:
Tips for telling the best story? 

DG:
“I want every image to inspire the viewer to one of several responses: Drop their jaw, yearn to visit the location, and aspire to get to know the people in the photo or to simply thank their Creator for such exquisite beauty.”

TM:
Better to let photos happen? 

DG:
“I do planning to get my best shots. I watch the skies and weather forecasts to get a sense of what the cloud situation will be like. A sky without clouds is boring. Clouds add texture, contrast and color, especially at sunrise and sunset. And if you have water in the photo, then the reflections of the clouds double the impact. When God decides to paint the skies, we can only watch with our eyes and mouth wide open … and then I always try to be fully prepared to capture it.”

William R. “Bill” Cox

Fort Myers
 
Photo courtesy of William R. Cox.
TOTI MEDIA: Self-taught?

Bill Cox:
“Yes. I used color slide film from 1975 to 2005, have been shooting Canon digital cameras from 2005 to present. This is a wonderful era to be a photographer.”

TM
: What’re your favorite images?

BC:
“I love to photograph wading birds and shorebirds on local beaches along the Florida Gulf Coast, songbirds, raptors and mammals at Florida’s local, state and federal parks, as well as private lands. I search literature, the internet and Google Earth to locate the best locations for targeted wildlife, habitats or landscapes—following this with extensive field work mainly by foot to locate the best sites to photograph.”

TM
: Best lighting opportunities?

BC
: “The best light for photography is the one hour of soft light at sunrise and sunset. Many unexpected opportunities happen beyond a photographer’s goals. Be prepared for the unexpected and be there!”

TM
: Why wildlife and not us humans?

BC:
“I’ve always been conservation oriented. My goal is to attempt to give wildlife a voice by my images telling a story. Examples include having a subject stand out by softening [blurring] the background, capturing not one but two or three animals interacting with each other, capturing animal behavior, and taking pictures of brightly colored subjects.”

TM:
You use how many out of 100 shots?

BC:
“Ten, on the average.”

Clyde Butcher

Venice, Florida
 
TOTI Media: Formal training?

Clyde Butcher
: “No, didn’t have formal training. I graduated in architecture and used photography to present my architectural model designs for presentations. In order to do that, I had to learn how to photograph and develop film by myself. The owner of the local photography store helped me a lot.”

TM
: Tips for telling the best story? 

CB:
“My photographs do not tell stories, they are feelings of the environment. My suggestion for doing a proper job of photographing the environment is to take an art class in composition. When photographing an environment, it is often difficult to see the composition, so close one eye and look at the scene. It helps to flatten the scene into a two-dimensional experience, similar to what you will see on photographic paper. The scene may look good when it’s seen as a three-dimensional experience, but as a two-dimensional expression it may not.”

TM
: Better to let photos happen?

CB
: “I go out into the field and accept whatever is presented to me and then do the best I can with that experience. However, I stay out of the deep forest when it is bright and sunny because there is too much contrast in the forest … the black shadows and highlights on the leaves are too far apart, which make for a lousy photo. On bright sunny days I go out to where there is a horizon … the Gulf of Mexico or grassy plains. But other than that, I don’t go out with an idea of what I’m going to achieve. I let it just open up for me.”

TM:
Favorite place to shoot photos?

CB:
South Florida. We have a wonderful unique environment—grassy plains, forests, deep swamps, beautiful offshore islands, great sculptural mangroves—it’s endless.

Written by Craig Garrett, Group Editor-in-Chief for TOTI Media.
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