To capture the essence of trees on multi-media (canvas, film, computers, moving pictures, bronze, clay, glass, precious metals) and sell to end users for posters, books, magazines, jewels, clothes, cards, gifts.
A nature photographer is an artist who brings images to life. Whether trees are the principal focus of the artwork, or part of the background, the nature photographer must be skilled in multi-media renditions. Susan Reep has a home-based business in Bakersfield creating greeting cards. Greg Iger is a professional photographer who has published two books on the natural wonders of Kern County, and whose photos frequently grace the lobbies of businesses. And while Casey Christie, Photo Editor at The Bakersfield Californian, started out developing his photos in the dark room, he has made the leap to digital technology.
Except for magazine staff photographers, nature photographers work mostly free lance, and their creative and economic success is based on reputation. It helps to have a stock agent to promote your work and develop a special niche where you can sell clip art to the market at large and get paid a commission each time your creations are used.
Earnings depend on reputation and range from entry level positions with a magazine at $500 per week to $60,000 or more annually for well reputed photographers, who regularly publish in National Geographic and other prominent magazines.
Barry Tessman combines nature and action to create signature outdoor adventure shots. He has great physical prowess and takes many risks to get the action shots that have made him famous. He is in demand world wide because he is not afraid to travel abroad and to survive in the wilderness. Tessman's passion is photojournalism - the kind where you get right up close to somebody and show who they are so the rest of the world can see.
"Keep your camera with you all the time because you'll never know what you're going to see" says Casey Christie who recommends taking a variety of photography classes. "Versatility is important."
"You've got to have the right equipment - very specialized lenses" Christie continues. Start up costs for a free lancer include $2,000 to $3,000 for lenses and $1,000 for two camera bodies. Then there's the cost of film and processing. Being a successful nature photographer requires people skills, technical knowledge and creativity.
"You need to know the right people to make money in this field" says Christie, "but if you want to do it, you'll find a way to do it."