A Ten-year BAA Retrospective… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

A Ten-year BAA Retrospective...

What’s Up?

I am somewhere in South America. I hope that you are well. Jim and Jen are at the office most days to help you with your mail order needs and Instructional Photo-Tour sign-ups. I still need folks for San Diego, Japan, Galapagos, the Palouse, and the Bear Boat (Grizzly Cubs) trips. Among others 🙂 Please e-mail for couples and discount info for all of the above. Click here for complete IPT info.

I will have intermittent internet access for the rest of my South American adventure. I get back home late on December 25, 2016. Best and great picture making, artie


Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of the folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

The Streak: 388!

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 388 days in a row with a new educational blog post. There should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. Or not… As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

Living A Dream: Life as a Freelance Nature Photographer/Then…

The text below, written in 1996, is cut and pasted verbatim from the closing page of The Art of Bird Photography II (ABP II: 916 pages, 900+ images on CD only).

Many people think that life as a professional nature photographer is a romantic one, and many dream of pursuing that existence themselves. As far as I am concerned, their dreams are justified. Since I walked away from my job as a 23-year veteran elementary school teacher in the New York City school system in 1992, I have been living a dream. I travel North America and the world photographing my favorite subjects, free and wild birds. Being out on a beautiful beach at dawn on a still morning with a big telephoto lens is heaven on earth to me. In recent years, I have made several trips to Alaska to photograph Coastal Brown Bear and to Kenya and Tanzania where I have grown to love photographing all manner of wildlife.

I have the respect of many thousands of folks, including many of my peers. John Shaw and Jim Brandenburg, two of my idols, are my friends. At times I am even recognized in an airport! My work is published regularly in a variety of media around the world. I meet many wonderful folks on my BIRDS AS ART/Instructional Photo-Tours and at weekend seminars and many of them have become close and dear friends. I have taught hundreds of folks to make better images and many of them have gone on to be published nationally. I am invited to speak at various events in the U.S. and more recently have been invited to speak at prestigious photographic conferences in Germany and Finland. In 2005 I keynoted at the NANPA Summit in Charlotte,
NC; the standing ovation that I received after my program was one of the great highlights of my life.

Since 1997 I have been a Canon contract photographer, one of the fifty-five original “Explorers of Light.” I did seven episodes of the Canon Photo Safari television program and was featured in an ad for the EOS-1n camera body that aired worldwide in several languages.

My fifty best friends are photographers. I love being outdoors and I love making great images. Heck, five of my images have been honored in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, and one of those was recently featured on the cover of “Light on the Earth,” a collection of the best images from the last 20 years of this prestigious contest. In recent years I have been invited to lead trips to some of the world’s great wildlife destinations, Galapagos and Antarctica. My travel and expenses are paid in full. What’s not to like?

I have an efficient, hard-working, well-paid staff of two. They make my life simple and easy. Because of their efforts, I get to spend more than 250 days a year on the road or in the field photographing. I am under no stress at all from my job. Oh, did I forget to mention that I am making more money than I could ever have dreamed of?

Yes, when I am home I put in long hours answering e-mails, writing, working on images, and planning new trips and projects. I often work 14 or more hours a day, but I totally love what I do. When I am teaching I work just as long and even harder. I have lunch and dinner with my groups in an effort to immerse them totally in the photographic experience, editing images at lunch and answering questions virtually non-stop. Evenings are consumed by educational slide programs and critiquing sessions. Many liken my IPTs to photographic boot camps. I do, however, take great pride in sending folks home happy and smarter with lots of great images.

Fact: 99% of the images that I send out for consideration are rejected. That’s what is. Accept it. Fact: image sales are down well more than 50% since 9-11. Photographers who used to be able to get by just selling images are having trouble unless they have expanded their business horizons. BIRDS AS ART has flourished by expanding our electronic publishing and mail order line and by doing more seminars, IPTs, and international Photo-Safaris and Cruises. The bottom line is that I love my job and would not trade it for any other. I am truly blessed.

Living A Dream: Life as a Freelance Nature Photographer/Now…

The text below is an updated version of the text that appeared originally in The Art of Bird Photography II (ABP II: 916 pages, 900+ images on CD only). All changes are indicated in bold face.

Many people think that life as a professional nature photographer is a romantic one, and many dream of pursuing that existence themselves. As far as I am concerned, their dreams are justified. Since I walked away from my job as a 23-year veteran elementary school teacher in the New York City school system in 1992, I have been living a dream, traveling North America and the world photographing my favorite subjects, free and wild birds along with flowers and old buildings and bears and lots more. Heck, today enjoyment comes from photographing just about anything that catches my eye. Being out on a beautiful beach at dawn on a still morning with a big telephoto lens is heaven on earth to me. In recent years, I have made several trips to Alaska to photograph Coastal Brown Bear and to Kenya and Tanzania and Namibia where I have grown to love photographing all manner of wildlife.

I have the respect of many thousands of folks, including many of my peers. John Shaw and Jim Brandenburg, two of my idols, are my friends. At times I am even recognized in an airport! My work is now rarely published in a variety of media around the world as too many good photographers simply give their work away for free or for pennies. Many of the wonderful folks on my BIRDS AS ART/Instructional Photo-Tours and at weekend seminars have become close and dear friends. Through my books and the blog and BPN thousands of folks have learned to make better images and many of them have gone on to be published nationally and several have been honored in the world’s most prestigious international photographic competitions. In 2005 I keynoted at the NANPA Summit in Charlotte, NC; the standing ovation that followed was one of the great highlights of my life. Shortly after being named a NANPA Fellow about eight years ago (primarily because of my work with the high school and college scholarship students) I mysteriously became personna non grata at NANPA and remain a member today only to take advantage of the equipment insurance program.

Since 1997 I have been a Canon contract photographer, one of the fifty-five original “Explorers of Light.” I did seven episodes of the Canon Photo Safari television program and was featured in an ad for the EOS-1n camera body that aired worldwide in several languages. About three years ago I became a Canon Explorer of Light Emeritus…

Nearly all of my hundred best friends are photographers. I love being outdoors and I love making great images. Heck, eight of my images have been honored in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, and one of those was featured on the cover of “Light on the Earth,” a collection of the best images from the last 20 years of this prestigious contest. In most years during the past decade I have had one or two images honored in the now-prestigious Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Photography Awards Competition. And “Gannets in Love” won the Art in Nature category. A while back I was invited to lead trips to some of the world’s great wildlife destinations including the Galapagos and Antarctica. My travel and expenses were paid in full. I have now been leading my own trips to the Galapagos for about seven years. In two weeks I will be making my fifth trip to the Southern Oceans and spending 9+ weeks in South America, three of those doing land-based trips in The Falklands. What’s not to like?

BAA has an efficient, hard-working, well-paid staff of two. They make my life simple and easy. Because of their efforts, I get to spend more than 250 days a year on the road or in the field photographing. I am under no stress at all from my job. Oh, did I forget to mention that I am making more money than I could ever have dreamed of?

Yes, when I am home I put in long hours answering e-mails, writing, working on images, and planning new trips and projects. I often work 16 or more hours a day, but I totally love what I do. When I am teaching I work just as long and even harder. I have lunch and dinner with my groups in an effort to immerse them totally in the photographic experience, editing images at lunch and answering questions virtually non-stop. Afternoons are consumed by educational slide programs and critiquing sessions. Many liken my IPTs to photographic boot camps. I do, however, take great pride in sending folks home happy and smarter with lots of great images.

Fact: 99% of the images that I send out for consideration are rejected, and these days we do not send out many images at all; as above, stock sales are down across the board. That’s what is. Accept it. Fact: image sales are down well more than 90% here at BAA since 9-11. Photographers who used to be able to get by just selling images are having trouble unless they have expanded their business horizons. BIRDS AS ART has flourished by expanding our electronic publishing and mail order line and by doing more seminars, IPTs, and international Photo-Safaris and Cruises. The B&H affiliate program and the Used Photo Gear Page sales have helped immensely to keep us more than afloat. The bottom line is that I still love my job and would not trade it for any other. I am truly blessed.

Questions Welcome

If you have a question about the changes that have occurred over the past ten years, please leave it in the form of a comment below.


bearboatcubscard-1

Images and card copyright Arthur Morris/BEARS AS ART 🙂

2017 Bear Boat Coastal Brown Bear Cubs IPTs: July 18-24, 2017 from Kodiak, AK: 5 FULL & 2 Half DAYS: $6699. Happy campers only! Maximum 8/Openings 3.

Join me in spectacular Katmai National Park, AK for six days of photographing Coastal Brown Bears. Mid-July is prime time for making images of small, football-sized cubs. The cubs, and these dates, are so popular that I had to reserve them three years in advance to secure them. There are lots of bears each year in June, but the mothers only rarely risk bringing their tiny cubs out in the open in fear of predation by rival bears. In addition to making portraits of both adults and cubs, we hope to photograph frolicking and squabbling youngsters and tender nursing scenes. At this time of year, the bears are either grazing in luxuriant grass or clamming. There will also be some two- and three-year old cubs to add to the fun. And we will get to photograph it all.

We will live on our tour operator’s luxurious new boat. At 78 feet long its 24 foot beam makes it quite spacious as well. And the food is great. We will likely spend most of our time at famed Geographic Harbor as that is where the bears are generally concentrated in summer. On the odd chance that we do need to relocate to another location we can do so quickly and easily without having to venture into any potentially rough seas. We land via a 25 foot skiff that has lots of room for as much gear as we can carry.

Aside from the bears we should get to photograph Horned and Tufted Puffin and should get nice stuff on Mew Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Harbor Seal, and Steller’s Sea Lion as well. A variety of tundra-nesting shorebirds including Western Sandpiper and both yellowlegs are also possible. Halibut fishing (license required/not included) is optional.

It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of July 17 to avoid missing the float planes to the boat on the morning of July 18. Again, with air travel in Alaska (or anywhere else for that matter) subject to possible delays, being on Kodiak on July 16 is a much better plan.

Barring any delays, we will get to photograph bears on our first afternoon and then again every day for the next five days after that, all weather permitting of course. On our last morning on the boat, July 24, those who would like to enjoy one last photo session will have the opportunity to do so. The group will return to Kodiak via float plane from late morning through midday. Most folks will then fly to Anchorage and to continue on red-eye flights to their home cities.

What’s included? 7 DAYS/6 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. National Park and guide fees. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of two top professionals; we will constantly let you know what we are thinking, what we are doing, and why we are doing it. Small group image review, image sharing, and informal Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). Your lodging and meals on Kodiak. The cost of the round-trip float plane to the boat and then back to Kodiak as above. The cost of a round trip last year was $550. The suggested crew tip of $200.

Have you ever walked with the bears?

Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 5 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears just yards away (or less….), it will be one of the great natural history experiences of your life. Most folks who take part in a Bear Boat IPT wind up coming back for more.

A $2,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “BIRDS AS ART” is required to hold your spot. Please click here to read our cancellation policies. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork here and send it to us by mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855.

Your deposit is due when you sign up. That leaves a balance of $4699. The next payment of $2699 will be due on September 15, 2016. The final payment of $2000 is due on February 15, 2017. We hope that you can join us for what will be a wondrously exciting trip.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

14 comments to A Ten-year BAA Retrospective…

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Artie, you are a gifted photographer and teacher. You are incredibly generous with your knowledge, time and opinions. Your blog and used gear site, your recommendations on gear, all are an amazing gift to us all. Thank you.
    You’re an amazing artist. Your love of birds and wildlife is incredible and it really shows in your images.
    Keep doing what you love – i’m sure its keeping you young at heart, happy and hopefully, healthy!

  • avatar HARVEY TABIN

    Good for you, lucky and a nice guy. They must have loved you as a NYC teacher

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Harvey,

      Thanks. I may have mentioned this before or above but at the height of my career I was actually a much better teacher back then than I am a bird photography today (he said modestly).

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    As a Christian I have always understood that it is more blessed to give than receive – this is what it’s all about. Nothing wrong with looking after your own needs and some wants but that isn’t the key to happiness. I know this is foolishness in the eyes of many but the proof is in the pudding.

    Arty, thanks to you (samples and commentary), I, as a retired beginner DSLR photographer of roughly three years, have recently graduated to the 1DX II and 400 DO II and am loving it, especially since I now have 800mm. In 1976 I had a Canon F1 and 3 FD lenses and was on my way but the cares of life prevented my photography from really taking root.

    Now that I’m retired it’s growing like wildfire. I was an electronics instructor at a technical college for 40 years and in spite of enjoying my students, I’d take outdoors and wildlife and nature over that any day. For me it’s God’s creation.

    Here is a sample (hope I’m not overstepping my bounds here) of a few shots I’ve posted: http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/profile/647784/

    Your commentary really resonates! Keep up the good work!!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Jack,

      Best of luck. You have some nice stuff. The female downy taking flight is pretty cool.

      later and love, artie

  • Again like above ,no questions , I just want to say thanks to you Art ,at the age of 57 earler this year ,I have become a full time photographer ,no job ,no money , but thanks to reading all about you and watching all of your videos ,I bought a new 7D Mkii and a new 100-400 Mk ii lens ,borrowed the money from my local Credit Union ,(just 5000 euros) about 5400 dollars ,and it has been the best investment I have ever made in my life , I have been taking photos all my life ,but now thanks to you Art ,I take wildlife photos every day . So when I read all of the above writen my you ,it made me just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart .

  • For many reasons, none of which has anything to do with how wonderful BAA is, I have had to be absent from the pages here for some months. I logged back on, on impulse, today. I have only this to say: I am firmly convinced, Artie, that one reason, maybe the most important reason, that you live such a life of blessing is that you GIVE such a life of blessing. I haven’t been here to say “thank you” for a while. How wonderful that today, once again, I get the opportunity to “pay honor to whom honor is due.” What a gift it would be to call you “friend” in that our lives intersected out in the field. As it is, I am very grateful to call you “mentor.” Much of the success I have enjoyed has been through your tutelage–here, and in your published resources. Among my awards one I am especially proud of is being one of the finalists in the Small In Frame section of your 2nd BAA Photo Competition. So, Artie, once again, thank you.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Many thanks Eve. Your kind words are greatly appreciated. I am glad that you are back.

      later and love, artie

  • What a wonderful life you are leading, doing what you love and thriving!

  • No questions, just a comment. You are truly blessed to be so successful and excellent in something you truly love. I know only a few people (especially in my field) who are in the same situation. Can only offer encouragement and thanks!