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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Nature & Nurture

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

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Sandra Samojeden captures a South American lightfoot crab expelling seawater from its exoskeleton.
A New Vision
Sandra Samojeden
A visit to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies 15 years ago sparked Sandra Samojeden’s love for nature. “The blue-green hue of the glacially fed streams and lakes, along with the towering snowcapped peaks and abundance of wildlife, inspired me to want to continually have these types of experiences,” recalls the photographer.

Samojeden captures the true essence of a wild animal in its natural environment. She has done this not just by going out as much as feasibly possible to photograph, but also by learning as much about the animals she photographs. “When I’m not in the field,” she say, “I’m researching for additional information about the animal’s behavior and environment.”

While attending a workshop sponsored by the North American Nature Photography Association, Samojeden was inspired and motivated to take her photography to the next level. “One of the instructors not only encouraged me to continue pursuing my dream as a nature photographer, but he also offered advice on how to proceed,” she recalls.

A brown pelican in mating plumage as it flits along ocean waves.
While Samojeden’s favorite location to photograph is Alaska, she’s working near her home on a major conservation project to restore habitat for the barn owl. “A conservation group was formed to raise awareness for the need to protect habitat for the barn owl in Illinois,” says Samojeden. “I’ve donated my photos to be used in their presentations to local businesses and schools for fund-raising and educational purposes.”

For Samojeden, she knows that the nature photography profession is competitive. “I’ve learned in the short time that I’ve been in this profession that the key to success is to develop relationships not only with the business entities of this vocation, but the experts in the field of natural history as well,” she says. “It’s easy to believe you’re not good enough to make it in this business. You must understand that criticism comes with the territory and that you need to develop a thick skin.”


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