Steve Bentsen DVM
A native South Texan, I got into photography in high school and shot as a hobby for years, including black & white with the requisite home dark room. I have always loved nature and the outdoors. I grew up hunting, fishing, camping and am an Eagle Scout. After graduating vet school I returned to South Texas where I included wildlife rehabilitation work and wildlife/habitat management on private lands in my veterinary practice. I guided hunters and birders for over 20 years. Through all of these activities I carried my camera and photographed liberally.
Wildlife and nature photography became a serious passion in the mid 70’s and in the mid 80’s I embarked upon a part-time free-lance writing/photography career which I squeezed in and around my veterinary career and outdoor activities. I had work published in a wide assortment of publications (list available at www.stevebentsen.com) over the next 20 years, primarily focusing my efforts on private lands in extreme South Texas.
My passions have been wildlife, pets, habitat and nature photography. The organizations where I have applied my efforts have been Valley Land Fund (www.valleylandfund.com) where I was a founding member, Texas Wildlife Association (www.texas-wildlife.org), Palm Valley Animal Center (www.palmvalleyanimalcenter.org) where I am a board member, and North American Nature Photography Association (www.nanpa.org) where I am a charter member.
In 2005 I decided to shift the focus of my photo business from selling nature photography to selling nature photo tourism. I purchased a small tract of native habitat and began developing it for nature photography. Now, in conjunction with my neighboring ranch of Campos Viejos, I offer access to this property to visiting photographers and photographic workshops on a day-fee basis. The development of the property and establishment of the photography sites has been an intensive and rewarding campaign. Last year I put a conservation easement on the land to ensure that the habitat will be protected in perpetuity. You can read more about the ranch at www.dosvenadas.com. This ranch is a member of two Texas organizations representing ranches engaged in habitat protection through nature photography. Those organizations are Lens and Land (www.lensandland.com) and Images For Conservation Fund (www.imagesforconservation.org).
The personal rewards of this project are obvious. Owning and photographing my own property is very fulfilling. Knowing that I am contributing to the preservation of valuable natural habitat and wildlife is a special reward. Being able to shoot, interact and talk shop with so many other nature photographers has been fun. But beyond all of that is the knowledge that almost 300 people with a special eye and ability for seeing and recording nature have now visited, seen and recorded the results of what I have done here. The knowledge that they will go forth and multiply my efforts by inspiring others with their images and their stories makes me understand that, through photography my little piece of nature can have an impact far beyond its actual size.