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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mid-Atlantic Wild!

From lawyer to naturalist, Ian Plant is now living the dream

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Previous books about the Chesapeake focused on the human elements of history and culture, such as historic towns, lighthouses and the local population of watermen—the men who work the bay for fish, oysters and crabs. Plant became the first photographer to document the natural landscapes and wildlife of the bay in an exhibition-style coffee-table book.

Mid Atlantic Wild: Dawn Light Fires
Plant says patience is vital in getting the right shot, and in order to find locations that haven't been over photographed, he scouts areas via backpack and kayak. ABOVE: An impending dawn lights marsh grasses, Black water National Wildlife Reserve, Maryland.
The idea began three years ago. "I was photographing bay scenes for Virginia: Wonder and Light, and I was struck by the beauty of the bay," recalls Plant. "With the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in 2007—and the beginning of Captain John Smith's epic exploration of the bay—the relevance and significance of this project seemed obvious."

Plant recruited writer Tom Horton to pen the book's essays. "Tom is a leading authority on the bay," says Plant. "I contacted him and asked if he was interested. Luckily, he was!"

The Publishing Business
Upon entering the photography profession, Plant became dismayed at how difficult it was for new photographers to make a living in the editorial and stock markets, especially for many full-time pros who have found their markets shrinking in the past few years.

"I decided to add publisher to my forte," explains Plant. "I had the opportunity to partner with another photographer, Jerry Greer from Tennessee, who had a small publishing company of his own and had already self-published two books and a yearly calendar."

Mountain Trail Press now has 16 books and four calendars. Plant and Greer not only self-publish their own work, but also publish the work of other photographers, including George Stocking in Arizona, Michael Hardeman in Oklahoma, Richard Bernabe in South Carolina and Bill Lea in North Carolina, among others.

Mid Atlantic Wildlife: American Coots
American coots, Potomac River, Virginia.
What's next for Plant? "There are too many projects to keep track of, but my most immediate projects include a book on the Atlantic's wild barrier islands and another on the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York," he says. "There's so much to do and see in this world that I hope I never retire!"

Plant is living his dream and now is helping others do so as well. But most important for Plant is having the opportunity to share with others his vision and love for the great outdoors.

"It's the beauty and power of nature that guides my work," says Plant. "I can only hope my images capture even the tiniest fraction of that inspiration and create a spark in the hearts of others."

To see more of Ian Plant's work, visit www.ipphotography.com. To learn more about Mountain Trail Press, visit www.mountaintrailpress.com.



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