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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nature & Nurture

Unique perspectives on outdoor photography and the importance of preserving our environment

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Natural Design

Brenda Tharp explores shape and texture in this image of a leaf, Double Arch Alcove, Zion National Park, Utah.
Brenda Tharp
No mode of transportation is too unusual for Brenda Tharp if it means getting the image. She has used llamas, kayaks, helicopters, hot air balloons and cycles, as well as her own two feet, to reach special locations to photograph. Her love for nature stems from her childhood days following her father as he explored the great outdoors. “My Dad’s fascination with the outdoors sparked my love for nature,” remembers Tharp. “He was the family photographer, so I grew up with someone always taking pictures.”

Today, as one of the country’s most respected nature photographers, Tharp uses her skill as a photographer and naturalist to impart to others the same excitement she has for nature. Tharp’s photographic signature is her extraordinary ability to discover unique compositions and designs in nature. Her book Creative Nature & Outdoor Photography has become a well-used guide on the concepts of compositional design.

Tharp’s immersion in nature photography as a career began in 1985. “I think that being a woman made things a little harder, but I truly tried not to let that be an issue,” says Tharp. “As a friend of mine once said, we’re just photographers. It doesn’t matter whether we’re guys or girls; it’s the pictures that matter.”

A bear and her cubs peer into the Alaskan distance.
The most challenging aspect for Tharp wasn’t the photography, but the business side of things. “The most difficult part was marketing—how to get the word out about what I do,” she says. “It wasn’t in my nature to be a salesperson, but I taught myself how to make those calls and do all the other things required in the business realm of this profession.”

Tharp’s advice to others planning to make a career of nature photography is to become experts of the craft of photography and to find something they love to photograph. “Make it a niche or specialty, if you can,” recommends Tharp. “And don’t forget about the people-to-people connection. You still have to develop those personal relationships to achieve a measure of success.”

To see more of Brenda Tharp’s photography, visit www.brendatharp.com.


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