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on Jun 27, 2011 in Wildlife Photography

Thanks Goes a Long Ways!

“Say thank you now!” I don’t know how many times I was reminded that growing up, but it sure seems like it was an awful lot. It was one of those lessons in life which made no sense to me at the time but man, it sure does now. It seems at times we got to where we are all on our own but we know that’s not the case. There are an awful lot of folks behind us helping get where we are. This is especially true if you’re successful in photography!

While I am thankful for those who have shared their photographic knowledge with me, I am more thankful for those who have shared their worldly knowledge with me. For example, I have written forever that my success as a wildlife comes from the biologists I work with (and now in aviation it’s the pilots making me successful). Like the marmot project up in AK, I would never had my glass on the Alaska Marmot one day and then on the Hoary Marmot (pictured here) the next without dedicated biologists. The adult and spring young were amazing subjects and ones we would have not gotten on without the biologists. We had to make the shots, but they got us there to make those shots. Like I’ve always told our sons, “I can open the door for you but you have to walk through it.”

In photography, no matter what genre you’re in, saying thanks is a must and not just for your own sake! Had an conversation with someone in the last couple of days that brought this topic to mind and I guess, because for me it seems rather natural, the story really fried my feathers (yes, Moose have feathers). Bottomline, the person I was working with had been burnt by a number of photographers, not just one but a number. He’d put himself, knowledge and time out their for these photographers and he never got a thanks, a print, a file, nothing. The photographer took and never gave back. And yet, because of their nature allowed one more, me, into their world. It might seem strange, but I do this blog to say thanks to those long ago who gave freely of themselves so I could grow. Most of them I know don’t read the blog because sadly, time has marched on and they have passed. But that debt remains that a simple thank you still doesn’t suffice. So sending the biologists prints of this moment in this marmot’s life with flies buzzing all around them yet taking time to say hello means alot. Means a lot to the biologists and to the photographers who come along after me so the door is still open for them.

What’s the best way to say thanks? The words at the moment don’t hurt, that’s for sure. But the best way is the gift of art. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, giving the print is the best thing you can do. It say thanks like no other gift. And on the business side, if your art is hanging on someone’s wall, they will never forget you. That my friends is very powerful stuff! We keep the Epson 4900 humming all the time making thank you prints and what flows from them just keeps the world turning. I had no clue growing up how much that constant reminder of saying thank you would effect me later on. It drives me nuts when folks don’t say thanks to me and even more when other photographers burn bridges when they don’t say thanks to those who make the photograph possible. Many ask what’s the secret to making it in this business for 30yrs. I know it’s not my charm, but it might be I at least know how to say thanks. Thanks goes a long ways!

Photos captured by D3x, 600VR w/TC-20e3 on Lexar UDMA digital film