No Images Today… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

No Images Today...

No Images Today…

I got back very late on Saturday night, actually at 1:50 am Sunday morning, from the whirlwind familiarization tour that Denise Ippolito and I attended with eight others last week. One of those attending was a young Indian photographer, National Geographic videographer Sandesh Kadur. Sandesh (say “sun-DAYSH”) asked if I would do an interview article with eight images for a relatively new magazine in India. Saevus Magazine is India’s first premium wildlife and natural history magazine. It is about compelling storytelling, stunning visuals and in depth natural history for readers across all ages and groups. The first draft of the text for the interview appears below. If you spot any typos or have any questions on any of the topics below that might help me flash out the interview it would be greatly appreciated if you left a comment below.

I will be doing a blog post on Sandesh soon. Those who cannot wait can learn more about him here.

Text for the interview article for Saevus Magazine

1. What inspired you to take up bird photography?

I had birded for seven years and had seen the work of two local photographers, the late and very tall Thomas H. Davis Jr. and an older eastern European man named Tony Manzoni. At a slide program that Tony did he showed an image of a Least Bittern that got me thinking: “I would like to do that.” And the rest as they say, is history.

2. Did you have formal training in photography?

Zero. Well, actually one course: two hours for eight Tuesday nights, a basic course set up by New York City Audubon Society. Taught by a guy who turned out to be a lifelong friend, Milton Heiberg, who now lives in central Florida about 90 minutes from me. He has long been very proud of my success.

3. Do you think it is important to have any such training to become a natural history photographer?

Not at all. It is far more important to have a good background in birding and natural history. Though I birded for only seven years I did so with great passion heading out most mornings before going to work as an elementary school teacher in New York City and then heading back out most days after work. That and both days on weekends. So by the time I bought my first telephoto lens in August 1983 I knew a lot about the birds and how they acted.

4. How is bird photography as a genre different from other forms of photography?

I don’t know as I know little about other forms of photography; I am quite narrowly focused on birds and wildlife photography…..

5. What are your favorite birds to photograph and why?

Shorebirds were my first love. That goes back to my days at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, New York, where I learned birding and then photography. The refuge butts right up to Kennedy Airport. Today I love photographing all types of birds, even the most common ones, but shorebirds, raptors, owls, and colorful songbirds are all right up there for me.

6. You often suggest ‘Visualizing the photograph in your mind before you have even taken it’. Can you please elaborate on this and explain to our readers how to learn to excel in visualization.

Well, I am not sure that I ever said exactly that. Once I see a situation I can visualize where I need to be and what I need to do to create the image that I realized instantly is there. Most often the process involves seeing the light and combining that with the best possible background; a great deal of my work is as much about the backgrounds as it is about the bird.

Beginners are advised to look at as many great images as possible: in books; on calendars; on photographers’ web sites; and on educational web sites like Bird Photographers.Net ( In the field it is a good plan—if possible—for beginning photographers to move left or right, or up or down without their gear to learn how the light will affect the subject and how their choice of perspective will affect both the image and particularly the background.

7. Who are your target audience or clients and how do you reach them?

My target audience comprises everyone who loves photographing birds and wants to learn how to do just that only better. We reach most people via a huge web presence specifically via the blog ( and our free educational Bulletins. Subscribe at our website here: I average about four to five blog posts a week and each almost always includes 1-5 images with our legendary BIRDS AS ART educational captions; there is always tons of learning going on. I am not very skilled at promoting the business via the customary social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Not sure if I will ever have the time to partake there…. Everyone can learn a ton by visiting or subscribing to the blog at

8. What do you do apart from photography in your free time?

I swim every day. And I enjoy a variety of sports on TV including professional football (our NFL football, not your soccer), golf, and professional basketball. I used to participate in all three of them on a pretty much informal level; now I enjoy them vicariously. And for whatever reason I enjoy watching No Limit Texas Hold-em poker tournaments on the tube even though I have never played a single hand.

I enjoy cooking and eating good, healthy food. As I travel a lot I am always in search of tasty Indian or Thai food; finding a great curry dish with chicken or pork as protein is always a treat. And best of all the curry dishes do not raise my blood sugar much at all. I am a type II diabetic who has opted to go on insulin for tight control of my blood sugar levels.

9. Please share with us your experiences with ‘BIRDS AS ART’ Instructional Photo-Tours.

I enjoy being in the field with groups of photographers who are serious about improving. We attract folks with a wide range of skills, from those who are just starting to established pros. I have been blessed to have met dozens, even hundreds, of sweet and happy campers on my IPTs over the years. Many of them have become highly skilled photographers and several have gone on to careers as professional photographers. Best of all I have met many wonderful friends.

We try to teach folks to learn to analyze conditions and situations so that when they get back on their home turf they are much better equipped to make great images. And we always get in some Photoshop instruction so that they do not ruin their images after capture. Far too many out there over-process their images with too much saturation and too much sharpening. It pains me to see good images transformed into poor images. Our Digital Basics File has gone a long way to help folks improve their after-capture skills just as “The Art of Bird Photography” and “The Art of Bird Photography II” (the latter on CD only) has helped them perfect their in-the-field skills.

We have had people from the world over join us. Most recently I had the pleasure of meeting and working with a fine young Indian photographer on the Morro Bay IPT. Gaurav Mittal traveled all the way from India to join the group and will be returning with me to one of my soul places late next fall, Bosque del Apache NWR in San Antonio, New Mexico. He is quite skilled so watch out for him!

10. What would be your advice to upcoming Indian photographers who are seriously planning to take up a career on bird photography?

It is the same advice that I would give to upcoming photographers the world over. Number one and most important is for them to make sure that they are photographing what they love and are passionate about doing so. The industry has changed dramatically over the past decade. It is the rare photographer today who can succeed just by selling still images. Learning to write, learning to teach, and establishing a web presence is almost paramount to success. I always advise young pros to find their own niche and to develop markets for their work. Most pros today will counsel them to consider another career. Not me; they should not be discouraged. A life in photography is too wonderful a dream to give up on because of a few naysayers.

I would like to thank my new friend Indian photographer and videographer Sandesh Kadur for setting up this interview article. We met in June 2012 on a much too short familiarization tour of Trinidad and Tobago. Thanks also to Sandesh for opening my eyes to dSLR video. He is a kind, sweet, and very skilled young man.

60 comments to No Images Today…

  • Juan Carlos Vindas

    Very nice interview.
    I learned a lot from you and the suggetions the other readers made, Spanish is my mother tongue, but I love to learn different things and English is one of those!

  • Bill Goodhew

    Hi Artie –

    In # 10 I think “requisite” or a “prequisite” are better words for what you mean, although “paramount” is not wrong – American Heritage Dictionary says it means

    1.Of chief concern or importance: tending first to one’s paramount needs.
    2.Supreme in rank, power, or authority. See synonyms at dominant.

    “Requisite” means

    1. required or necessary for a particular purpose, position, etc.; indispensable: the requisite skills of an engineer.
    2. something requisite; a necessary quality, thing, etc.

    Maybe I’m just too picky…

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Bill. Requisite would surely work if the sentence were re-crafted a bit. I am finding this for paramount: chief in importance. So I am fine with the sentence as it because that is exactly what I meant.

  • Herman Hiel

    dear Artie,
    I would suggest a content issue: in your answer qo question 7 you reply: Subscribe to our website etc. I believe you could/should add that subscription to your website and blog is free. The readers in the new magazine might not be aware of this. They will be amazed that all that information is just for free. thanks again for sharing all your knowledge. Herman

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Herman. I added a link to the blog. And thanks also for your kind comments. Reminder to all: be sure to use our B&H link to show your appreciation for the info that we provide :).

  • Gaurav Mittal

    I’m honored and humbled that you mentioned me Guru Artie. I look forward to seeing you in November.

  • Art,
    I most appreciated your final comment about not discouraging would-be photographers. I hear that same line from pros in many fields including one that we share – teaching. I am still teaching after 35 years and while there are many frustrations and more than there used to be it is still a great and meaningful career. For whatever reason we seem to find it much easier to be discouraging about the future today than we were in the past, when, if anything, we should be more encouraging to those entering our fields.

  • a follow-up to your comment ‘birder is not slang’. that is right. But not sure if the term ‘birding’ has caught up in India. It might have. Everything is much more global than it used to be. When I was growing up in India, I never heard anybody use that term. We always used ‘birdwatching’. Interestingly, the american magazine ‘Birder’s world’ recently changed their name to ‘Birdwatching’.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks KD. I have been using “birder” ever since it came to light about 15-20 years ago. Bird watching is more antiquated to me and brings to mind visions of little old ladies with opera glasses. (No offense intended to that group :)).

      • Artie, here’s some more on the subject from wikipedia…

        In North America, many birders differentiate themselves from birdwatchers, and the term birder is unknown to most lay people. At the most basic level, the distinction is one of dedication or intensity. Generally, self-described birders are more versed in minutiae like identification (aural and visual), molt, distribution, migration timing, and habitat usage. Whereas these dedicated birders may often travel specifically in search of birds, birdwatchers have been described by some enthusiasts as having a more limited scope, perhaps not venturing far from their own yards or local parks to view birds.

  • Kathie Bauerle-Berg

    Thank you. As a new nature photographer, it was fun and helpful to learn how you got started. Have no suggestions for fixing the post – everyone helped and it is great. I only recently signed up for your blog, but am really enjoying it.

    Thank you again, Kathie

  • cheapo

    As you have acted on the comments here it’s pretty much spot on Artie. The only thing I can mention is really more a personal thing. I use the words, folks, folk and people, when typing, but feel thet you might reduce the number of times you use ‘folks’ and increase the insances of ‘people’. Plus I would definitely change “sweet and happy folks”, for sweet and happy folk. Thinking about it, it’s possible that a lot of Indian folk won’t be familiar with the word folk. Of course, I realize it’s part of your own way of speaking, and to me it gives your personality a nice ‘down to earth’ feeling, which I like. I wonder if even a clever grammar checker prog like Word or Open Office (which I use) could pick it out.

    Despite all, I really enjoyed reading this interview. 🙂

  • Jim Crabb

    By the time I read the article the errors were fixed and I found it informative. Thanks, as always, for your willingness to share!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You are most welcome. All in all this has been a great exercise for all involved (IMHO).

  • Jim Howell

    #5 – People in India may not know the location of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The rest is ‘you’ – great job!

  • Marvin Falk

    The term “folks” is overused. I think some could be dropped to make clear declarative sentences.
    I like your answers. Direct and to the point. Thanks for sharing.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Marvin for the great suggestion. I went from 17 “folks” down to six. Let me know if I screwed anything up. Or if you have any suggestions for further improvement in this area.

  • Carol Fuegi

    #7 – My target audience “comprises” everyone…… is the correct way to phrase this.

    I believe that “is comprised of” is not grammatically correct, even though that is a common usage. “comprises” stands alone, based on my knowledge.

    • David Policansky

      Both usages are correct. But people complain about both so sometimes I look for another word. 🙂

      • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

        Both uses are not correct by folks who care at all about language. Carol was 100% right on so thanks Carol! I love learning new stuff. I will fix it now.

        • David Policansky

          Hey, Artie, I care a great deal about language. I write, edit, and work with editors for a living, and more important, I just enjoy language and languages. But I’m here to learn about photography, not to argue about English usage with photographers. Your interview is fine and as you say, it should be in your voice. I bet it will be much appreciated by whoever your readership is comprised of.



          • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

            David my friend. You are way out of bounds here. You stated that both were accepted. They are not both acceptable. There are lots of instances where I say simply that I was wrong. That might have worked well for you here. I am thrilled with the interaction here as I have learned a ton. From folks pointing out my errors. It is my blog and if I want to ask about language and grammar that is exactly what I will do. Nobody forces you to come here and I am 100% positive that nobody forced you to post your original comment :).

            ps: There is no argument; you were simply wrong.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks a stack Carol!!!

  • Stuart Frohm

    If the ellipses designate elimination of text, I have no problem. Otherwise, would replace them with a period.

    I respectfully suggest:

    1. And the rest as they say, “is history.”
    Or you also eliminate the quotation marks.

    2. It was taught
    insert a comma after Heiberg

    3. seven years,
    (insert comma)

    5. Refuge,
    (insert comma

    even the most common ones; but shorebirds
    (replace comma with semicolon)

    6. that I realized instantly is there.

    7. I average about four to five blog posts a week, and each
    (insert comma)

    captions, so there is always tons of learning going on
    (insert comma — or perhaps a semicolon)

    8. sports on TV, including
    (insert comma)

    our NFL football,
    (insert comma)

    9. Many of them have become highly skilled photographers,
    (insert comma)

    He is quite skilled, so watch out for him!
    (insert comma)

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Stuart for your careful read. I made many of the changes that you suggested but many of the suggested commas are matters of style and my style is to keep talking fast on one breath. As in the previous sentence.

  • Paul Walker

    In the second question: …set up by up by New York City. Change to set up by New York City

  • Loren Charif

    Artie –

    I don’t think anyone else has picked up on this, but in the answer to #2 you say “a basic course set up by up by New York City Audubon Society”…there are 2 “up by’s”.

  • Dane Johnson

    Hi Artie,

    A couple of comments on this fine article.

    #1. I am not familiar with the understanding of some American slang in India. Would the Indian readers know what you mean in the first line “I had birded for seven years…”? Personally I don’t know. Or are the readers more likely to understand a different phrasing such as “I had been bird watching for seven years…”

    #2. In the first line you have a double “up by”; “… a basic course set up by up by New York City …”

    Hope this interview inspires more Indian photographers with talent similar to Gaurav.

    All the best, Dane

  • Artie,
    The one other punctuation correction I see is in para 6b. After the word possible, the period should be changed to a colon, the “in books; on calendars; on photographers’ websites; and on ….”
    Fine interview!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Jim. Great suggestion. That is one construction that my 8th grade English teacher never taught us. He was good. I can see his face–a handsome man–but cannot remember his name. I remember being stunned when I went to Juniors, a great charcoal-broiled burger place on the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues in Brooklyn; he was my family’s waiter!

  • Jay Gould

    Late to the party; for me “Down Under” it is 6:12am. I am engaged in my normal first read of the day – Thanks 🙂 Artie.

    #6: “photographers websites” – photographers’ as used herein is possessive and requires an apostrophe; interesting that web site can be written either “web site” or “website”

    #9: if you are going to be consistent (see #6), you need to include a space between paragraphs

    #9: “met dozens even hundreds of sweet, happy …”: I would move the comma so that it reads “met dozens, even hundreds, of sweet happy” or “sweet and happy”. I do not believe a list of two items is normally separated by a comma.

    As an aside, thanks for easing up on the context menu; I was able to copy the line “met dozens even hundreds of sweet, happy” and paste into a document before pasting into this response; I am also able to edit this response. 🙂

    #10: “Lastly folks should not”. I believe it reads better (differently?) if you put a comma after the first word – “Lastly, folks should not …”

    #10: “I would like to thank my new friend Indian photographer and videographer Sandesh Kadur”. I believe that commas should be put after “friend” and again after “Kadur”.

    Artie, you asked for “If you spot any typos…”; I assume that includes possible grammatical changes!


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks a stack Jay. All great suggestions and all implemented. It’s good to know that you are good for something! Just kidding.

      On the Sandesh Kandur commas (that I missed on the first read) me thinks that that is a matter of style. I can read it straight through without a breath….

      Your grammatical changes assumption was 100% correct.

  • Terry Jackson

    How is your instruction manual for the 5D Mark 111 coming along – I am looking forward to your help with the new canera

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Still working on the pre-publication version. That is one complex camera. Will have more time to devote to it this week and next and so on…..

  • Alan Lillich

    And in #9, “soul places next all” should be “soul places next fall”.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Alan. Two great catches. You’re hired! The ones that fill with spell check can be hard to find :). Love to you and to Pat. artie

      • Alan Lillich

        Glad to help. And auto spell check drives me nuts. I’m not a great typist and mostly look at the keyboard. Lots of times lately I try to type Pat’s email, patl, and it gets turned into paul – happened just now!

        Nice to hear Gaurav will be in Bosque. We’ll be there for dinner – assuming you’re having one – and a couple of days shooting while on our way to Illinois and North Carolina.

        • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          We will have the dinner. Folks are catching many more errors. Yikes! Love to Patl and Paul.

  • Alan Lillich

    In #6, “left of right” should be “left or right”.

  • Not wanting to nit pick but…… Perhaps most important and not importantly would be more correct.

  • #10. “Number one and most importantly”. Redundant, I think it would be better to use one or the other.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I am not thinking that you are correct on this one though I could not find anything specific. Number one means first on the list. Most important means that it is the most important item on the list. There is no clear inference that the list is in order of importance. If I call Mary Beacom Bowers I will run it by her and let you know.

      Hey, we should start a grammar blog. Did you check out the lay/lie link yesterday?

  • David Policansky

    Nice article indeed. I noticed the same typos that Nancy did; you meant “or” not “of” in 6, not quite sure what you meant in 9 (best of all? returning next with me to one of my soul places?). In #1, do you need to call Tony Manzoni “older”? As the proud owner of a Golden Age Passport, I notice such things. In #5, you’ve corrected “nut” to “but,” right?


    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      All corrected above. Thanks. Tom was in his mid-thirties when I first met him. Died young at about 42 after having a cerebral aneurism at 39. Tony was quite a bit older than Tom and than me so yes, I needed to call use older to describe him. I will be 66 in three days and am loving that. Beats being dead.

  • Sue

    In No. 2 second line… set up by up by New York City ….

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Sue. I just approved your comment at about 5:50pm; it is amazing how many folks missed that one!!! Our brain “reads” what it thinks is supposed to be there rather than what it there.

  • Elizabeth Lodwick

    Just the ones Nancy found. Good interview, glad to hear of new wildlife magazine in India, they have such extraordinary wildlife.

  • Nancy Bell

    #6, 2nd paragraph, “for beginning photographers to move left OF right”.

    #9, last sentence, “to one of my soul places next ALL, Bosque del Apache…”

  • Patty Corapi

    Under #5 in the last sentence you have the word nut before shorebirds. I have never heard of a nut shorebird just the nuts that roll around in whatever trying to take the shorebird’s picture. Other than that all looks good except a couple of weird characters that are probably from the editing program to the website.

    I love the article. Have a wonderful day.