Why? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART



I received the e-mail below in reference to the features listed at the top of BAA Bulletin #439, which you can access here, from Tim Kaufman, who kindly and ably assisted me on the 2012 Southwest Florida Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT).

Artie, What is it that drives you so much right now? Look at this list you sent! Is it being in the field doing photography? Is it the teaching? Is it the extra money you earn by working hard and doing more and more? Time with the one you love? What would you say is your biggest motivator? You should figure it out and bottle it. Tim

The Short Answer

The short answer is “All of the above.”

The Long Answer

I love being in the field photographing birds. And flowers. And bears. And wildlife in Africa and in the Galapagos–I will be in both locations this summer. And in Holland, or as John Dupps accurately pointed out, in The Netherlands, I enjoyed trying some street photography. What’s up with that? The principles are the same whatever the subject. And that applies to both the artistic and to a large part, to the technical aspects.

I take great joy and pride in creating images that make me happy and put smiles on other folk’s faces. When you consider that in bird photography you must get the right exposure, you must attain accurate focus, and you must design a pleasing image. And all of that often needs to be accomplished in less than 2 seconds…. And in addition, I enjoy optimizing my favorite images and sharing my techniques with others.

And I love to travel. Folks often ask, “Don’t you hate waking up in a hotel 180 days each year?” My reply is a simple one, “If I hated it I would stay home.”

I love teaching. I especially love teaching those who are truly interested in improving their skills. Every once in a while–it actually seems to be happening less and less recently, I run into someone, usually a guy, who is simply not gonna have another guy tell him what to do. “Move one big step to your left and you will make a better image.” They stand in the same spot as if they were made of cement. Having taught elementary school (for 23 years in NYC) I remember those ah ha moments, those times when the student’s jaw would drop, their eyes would open wide, and a smile appeared on their face where only moments before confusion had reigned. They understood. And those moments occur and are appreciated to this day when I am teaching photography be it in the field or during a seminar. Heck, sometimes I can even sense them online here on the blog or when doing critiques on BPN.

As far as the money goes, we continue to do well despite the recession. Do understand that if I closed up shop tomorrow at BAA, quit doing the blog, quit teaching, and went for a swim in my pool 365 that I would do very, very well on my NYC teacher’s pension and my Social Security check. I do, however, take pride in helping to support the families of two folks very near and dear to me, my right-hand Jim Litzenburg, and my older daughter, Jennifer Morris.

One question that Tim did not ask is “Why put so much work into the blog?” Adding together the funds that we receive from all the appreciative folks who remember to use our B&H and Amazon affiliate links would come to maybe a buck an hour for my efforts so it is surely not the money that drives me here. What gives? I like being the center of attention. I like sharing. And I like folks having folks say nice things to me. Even a simple “Thank you” juices me up. As I have shared here before, my striving to do well and to gain recognition for my efforts stems from my relationship with WWII veteran Dad, Robert E. Morris, who died in 2001. I only somewhat jokingly say, “The nicest thing he ever said to me was ‘take out the damned garbage.'” It has been several decades of doing my best in an effort to have folks say the nice things about me that my Dad never did. Don’t get me wrong; I realized later in life, after reading a truly great book, Seeing Your Life Through New Eyes: InSights to Freedom from Your Past , by Paul Brenner, that my Dad did love me. He just had difficulty letting me know that as I got older.

And yes, denise is a great friend. I enjoy traveling with her, marveling at her creativity, and being inspired by her artistry.

All in all I have a blessed life and I plan on continuing living it to the hilt for as long as possible. Thanks for asking Tim.

Iris Garden Workshop This Week!

I will be joining Denise Ippolito as a previously unannounced co-leader on her Iris Garden Flower Photography Workshop this coming Thursday, May 16, at the spectacular Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Upper Montclair, NJ. I will be bringing my 600 II along so if you’d like to learn long lens flower photography techniques this one is perfect for you. I will also have my 180mm macro along. Rain date: May 17. Learn more and register here.

Short Notice, Dirt Cheap, In-the-Field Nickerson Beach Photographic Instruction with Arthur Morris. May 15 (am & pm), 2013. (Yes, that is soon.) 6-9:30 am/4-7:30pm. This one is priced so low that you need to e-mail for the rates. Limit 4/session. Only a few openings left.

If you e-mail, please include all phone numbers. Payment in full due immediately. If you would like to join me please get in touch via e-mail. Breeding American Oystercatcher and Piping Plover (small chicks possible). Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls, Sanderling, and other shorebird species. Early-arriving Least and Common Terns, and breeding plumage Lesser Black-backed Gull likely. Courtship and mating behaviors; flight. Learn digital exposure and creative image design.

Amazingly, five folks have signed up for various sessions or combinations of sessions. But this still gives you a chance to take advantage of some practically private instruction with me at give-away prices.

Next Year In Holland

Despite a 100-year record cold spring with very few tulip fields in bloom this trip has been a spectacular success. The colors and variety of tulips at Keukenhof simply stun the mind and the senses. Denise and I are planning our Holland trip for next year: the Keukenhof Creative Tulip Photography IPT with a Touch of Holland. If you are a Happy Camper who is interested in joining Denise and me next spring, please shoot me an e-mail. Details will be announced soon.

We are currently fleshing out the details. The dates will be about the same, in mid April. In addition to the Keukenhof and the flower fields we will do an afternoon of windmills at Kinderdijk, a day in Amsterdam including a morning at the Rijks Museum and an afternoon visit to the Ann Frank House plus some street photography. We will do some street photography and fine dining in the little town of Edam. There will be about 7-9 days of photography in all. Those will include an afternoon option for a day or two of Purple Herons for those with long lenses.

Note: not surprisingly, early interest has been huge with several folks who want to sign up right now.

New York City–On Location with Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris May 25 – 26, 2013, 2-day Workshop-$495

Join Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris for a two-day creative workshop in the Big Apple. This exciting adventure through the streets of NYC will begin with an informal get-together at our hotel on the evening of May 24th. This will give us all a chance to get to know each other before we hit the streets in the morning for our first exciting photo shoot. We will explore China Town, Little Italy, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station (tripod permit included) and much more during our two days together. The emphasis will be on street photography, seeing and capturing dynamic images, and expanding your creativity using a variety of in-camera techniques including HDR and Multiple Exposure.

Please contact me via e-mail for complete details and the itinerary.


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25 comments to Why?

  • Bill Fraser

    Artie: I just want to take this opportunity to say thanks – for the blog, for your instructional literature, for the many tips that you serve up in your communications. I read completely you blog posts. I have purchased items from you (via Jim – a plesure to deal with) and when possible, I use the links on your website to but equipment from B&H. I have taken workshops with Jim Neiger, and James Schadle. I have yet to show up on an IPT, but hopefully there is one in my future. So, thanks again, Artie. You have pushed my photography skills forward in many ways. Bill Fraser

  • It’s one thing to share your considerable experience and knowledge of photography with your clients and followers. It’s above and beyond to share personal insights about your own life and character. That makes the experience much more meaningful and human. Thank you for that.
    It was fun (and another great learning experience) hanging out with you and Denise at Nickerson Beach Tuesday afternoon, and having dinner with the group later. The drive back home was a piece of cake; with your great directions (my GPS gave it the thumbs up) I got home in 2 1/2 hours, an hour less than it took me to get there with all the traffic earlier in the day.
    Looking forward to the full IPT at Nickerson in July. I’ll try not to forget my tripod this time, or the four bucks I owe Denise. 😉
    Be well!!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks John. Glad that you got home safely. We will see you in July.

  • Faraaz Abdool

    I’m sure I speak for many others when I say that almost everything I know about bird photography has come from you. There is no other person who so willingly shares the CORRECT information about the topic – and I have no idea how I’d ever be able to thank you properly. Sometimes I can’t believe I got the opportunity to meet you and Denise! Those few days were some of the best in my life :-).

  • Andy

    Artie, Thanks for sharing the long answer. Your books, guides and blog are much appreciated.

    Keep on. Andrew Rakoczy

  • Great answer and self awareness that most of us wish we had !

  • Love your long answer Art! I hope to get back there next spring to learn from you. I really love reading and learning from the blog and the bulletins. Off to see if my Pied-billed Grebe nest is hatching yet…should be any day now!

  • Tim Hurley

    Art, for those who haven’t had your live experience, this post captures the energy and the ‘heart’ that you bring to your workshops and seminars. Thank you for putting such personal thoughts into words, and then sharing them! But I think you may have left out one key reason why you do what you do, it’s FUN. On our outing you actually squealed like a school kid when you got a particularly good shot! That sense of adventure and discovery drives and motivates a lot of us to pick up a camera and head into the field, or backyard. I like reading your posts because they remind me of your zeal for what you do, and they remind me that I’m blessed to have the time and resources to follow my passions, too.
    Thanks Artie!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks a stack Tim. And you are right, I do have a ton of fun every time that I walk away from my car with my gear.

      Here is one more thing that I forgot. People often mention my great stamina while in the field with big glass. I suggest that they might be confusing stamina with determination. I consider the latter one of my greatest assets along with its closely related cousin, the ability and willingness to work long and hard.

  • Chris Cooke

    My only regret about you Artie is that my accidents will prevent me travelling to the USA as I had planned and meeting you in person. Owing to the metal implants in both my legs and one ankle the Medicos have advised against flying for more than 3 hours at over 8000 feet even with medical compression stockings owing to the risk of DVTs this prevented me being at my Mother’s side when she died recently “C’est la vie, C’est la Mort”

    Whatever Artie you are at least 80% responsible for the joy I get from my photography, your clever guides have patched the holes in my understanding of my equipment and taught me how to put it all together.

    I will never be an Arthur Morris but your boundless enthusiasm and obvious joy that you get from sharing yourself with so many of us allows me to live your life vicariously and though you may never know it, when you are in some exciting far away place living your life to the full, that on many occasions my soul is right there next to you and for me that is a wonderful and everlasting gift from you.

    Never change Mate, you are as we Australians say “A bloody bonzer bloke.”

    Thank you.


  • Dana

    Wow! I really enjoyed this post. Great Long Answer! Now, I wanted to be sure to write to tell you that I am so grateful that “what drives you” has touched many photographers lives! Certainly mine. I have learned so much from you…with so much more to learn…have not personally met you – though I feel like I know you through this blog. Having said that, I hope to be able to meet you soon, learn more from you through an IPT…You inspire me, teach me and keep me motivated to keep shooting despite my frustrations; I am always striving for better images and through my experiences I do share the feeling that you have expressed – the true joy of being out there in fascinating marvelous nature trying to capture and express the beauty that surrounds us. I feel blessed when I am able to find some magnificent wildlife or garden flower to photograph. I still struggle with the computer end of things…post processing, workflow, PS..(I am of the film and Kodachrome Fuji era)…but through your books, blogs and newsletter I continue to learn and refuse to give up and keep trying to improve my images, even though some days I question as to what “drives me”. Certainly, the digital era has made photography so accessible to the masses that even the most outstanding work is often viewed as commonplace…but that’s another dimension to this work… What “drives me” is my fascination and thrill at trying to record the wild things that awe me. Thank You for all you do to help those who love wildlife, beauty, and photography as you do! You continue to help so many through your email newsletter, blog and books and your wonderful images are always an inspiration! You, your work and your teachings are truly appreciated! THANK YOU ART MORRIS!
    Dana Campbell

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Dana for your kind words. You say that you have trouble with post processing. Do you have Digital Basics? I wrote it just for folks like you. later and love, artie

  • Deirdre Sheerr-Gross

    What a treat to have you share in so straight forward a manner what drives you, Artie..
    Who you are at your core… And what you say about yourself… and my experience of you rings true for me;

    …and How lucky you are to have that ability to seek out what works for you.. and to seek out who you are…

    I appreciate that you share your passion and yourself with us… We share with you… All seems to work out nicely…

    … And then the special treat for me was having Tim Kaufman start this blog off….
    The SW2012 IPT was my breakthru/stepup be counted as a photographer, moment in time…

    Not only will I always remember him busting his chops making sure things were running smoothly… and you had what you needed…
    But he had enough energy, interest and passion to share what he knew with the rest of us… and he was there for me on numerous occasions… Much appreciated.

    So thank you Artie… Thank you Tim.. ..and thank you Denise… You all have contributed… and I have benefitted.. Blessings.

    • Deirdre, you are too sweet! You have worked so hard and it shows 🙂

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Deidre, Many thanks for your kind words. I was actually thinking about you when I was writing this post. We love happy campers who really wish to improve their skills and work hard to that end.

  • I think you should write (or hire somebody) a book solely based on your whole life. No photography lessons, no theory on exposure, etc…just you. I’d buy that in a second. Doug

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Doug. Ask me about my family on the Nickerson IPT 🙂 Still a single opening there.

  • Reading the end of the fourth paragraph under “The Long Answer” takes me back to that breakthrough moment I had after reading the exposure chapter in the Art of Bird Photography. I had been struggling to understand exposure for some time and if anything had become even more confused after reading other published photographers’ attempts to explain the topic. I’ve since learnt a tonne of other stuff about photography, much of it from Artie’s publications, but this was probably the pivotal moment for my photography. I’ll always be indebted.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Paul. I have been saying for years that the material on Exposure Theory in the original The Art of Bird Photography is the bomb, the best ever written or available. I remember buying an exposure document–about 25 rexographed pages–from John and Barbara Gerlach about a zillion years ago and having that same aha moment. They crystallized my understanding of exposure and the stuff in ABP is based on what I learned from them.

      See you in Tokyo; we still need one more for the Japan IPT.