Again another great photographer who I found through 500px. Rebecca’s main passion is conservation photography and it just takes a quick look through the photos she has supplied here and on her website to realise she has an amazing talent.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m just a little bit off. My jeans always have dirt on my knees from crawling after one critter or another. My closet has one pair of dress shoes, barely worn and a whole bunch of hiking boots. I have more mosquito head nets than I have fancy scarves. I call San Francisco, CA home but I’m often traveling far from there.
What made you get into photography?
When I was a young girl in upstate New York my older brother began experimenting with black and white film development and processing. I followed him everywhere, holding dandelions for him to photograph, mixing chemicals and hanging prints to dry. At the same time my mother, a free-lance graphics artist, was introducing me both to nature and the amazing art of Monet, Bosch, Vermeer, Bruegel, Seurat, Degas and so many more. So art and photography have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember but the advent of digital was catalyst that pushed me from a casual hobbyist to something a bit more serious.
How did you get started?
Slowly, very slowly. I was very naive at first and thought that if I put quality images out there someone would find them and I’d make sales right and left. Hah! My real start was with a couple of portfolio reviews at a NANPA Summit. I met with a representative of a stock agency and the editor for a top nature magazine. The stock agent helped me assess my portfolio and edit it down to the tightest possible body of work. The magazine editor helped me to think not of a single image but of images as a series that tell a whole story. From there it’s been a steady uphill climb.
What sort of photography do you mainly do?
I consider myself to be a generalist photographically. I’ll shoot macros one day, birds the next, landscapes and mammals… even the occasional human portrait. I love it all but my true passion is conservation photography. Shooting with a purpose, giving a voice to the voiceless and visiting wild and untamed locations.
What gear are you using?
Right now I am shooting with Nikon gear. I’m pretty rough on my gear, dropping things in the mud, working in salt-water conditions, from ice and snow to dry hot desert. I need gear that can take a beating so my main bodies are the D3x and D3s. I have a tight assortment of lenses ranging from 14mm up to 600mm and I wouldn’t be able to work a landscape without my Singh-Ray filters. Gitzo, Really Right Stuff and Wimberley provide all the support I need and Think Tank Photo and LowePro get my gear where I need it to be.
Whats your favourite lens and why?
What am I shooting today? My favorite lens is the one in my hand when I need it. Sometimes that’s even my cell phone.
How are you marketing yourself?
Social media is a large component of my marketing but I don’t rely solely on Facebook, Google+, online forums and Twitter. Stock agents, professional organization listings, local open studio weekends, gallery shows, a 2 minute elevator speech, business cards and postcards at the ready, cold calls and donations to charity auctions… It’s a constant struggle.
Whats your favourite photo you have taken?
Picking just one favorite is almost impossible but I am especially fond of my work in the arctic particularly with the polar bears.
Polar bear yawns while enjoying a midnight swim in Smeerenburgfjorden, Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway.
A walrus displaying his tusks in aggression in Svalbard, Norway.
A blue phase arctic fox in his summer coat on St Paul Island, Pribilofs, Alaska.
Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?
Don’t give up just because you hear a few ‘No’ responses.
Something I don’t have myself but think would be exceptionally helpful is a business degree. There are thousands of talented photographers out there who think all they need to do to become a pro is put their images out there and people will flock to buy them. The reality of the market now is that you need to know how to brand yourself, how to get people to look at your work and then how to negotiate and close the deal. It’s taken me a long time to claw my way into the black, to develop relationships with clients and learn the business side of things. About twenty percent of my time now is spent in the field creating new images while eighty percent is sitting in an office key wording and making contacts. A business degree would have saved me a lot of trial and error.
A huge help to me are the professional organizations like ASMP (American Society of Media Professionals) and NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association). Reach out and learn from other pros, take advantage of the resources organizations like these have to offer.