Eyes: Shoot at eye level to your subject. For example, if you are photographing your cat on the ground, get on the ground too and shoot towards the eyes.
Move Around: Do not just shoot from the same angle — shoot high, shoot low, shoot diagonal, shoot upwards, etc. Photography is not a stationary job — not even in a studio.
Think Story: Do not capture an image — tell a story. If you pick up your camera, ask yourself what is the story you want to tell with the photo you are about to take. Can you do it in one shot or will it take a series?
As a part of my series about “5 Strategies To Take Stunning Photos” I had the pleasure of interviewing William Constantine, an award-winning Wildlife Photojournalist with a deep-seated passion for Conservation. He is committed to seeing the world become a sustainable place to live where people have a conscious awareness of environmental stewardship. Constantine authored Unveiling Alaska: A Beginners Guide to Exploring Alaska from Behind the Lens and he is a proud member of; the prestigious American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), Professional Photographer Association (PPA), and the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance (ITWPA).
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
You know, the first trip I have ever taken was down a narrow passageway called, “The Birth Canal”. PHEW! What a crazy journey that was and I have not stopped traveling since! It would not take long to realize that I had two natural abilities too — writing and photography. When I learned that I could combine these with my love of wildlife and travel … a business and lifestyle was born.
As far back as I can remember I have always been both fascinated and totally in love with nature and the wildlife that inhabit our world. In fact, it was not long before I was giving guided tours in the woods to my peers and even those older than me. I would hear people say over and over, “the woods come alive with you.” While I do not know about that, I do know that nature has a language and if you learn it you become far more aware of the world around you and the intricacies within it.
The more time I spent in nature the more I learned about living life. For example, a squirrel that forages for nuts and then neatly stockpiles them here and there — tucked away for safekeeping — teaches one to plan for the future. The songbirds celebrating every morning before the dawn show that each day is a joyous occasion and that the earlier you start the more you can accomplish and enjoy.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
As you can imagine, hanging out in nature and with various wildlife is ripe with interesting stories. One such story that comes to mind is when I was in Glacier Bay National Park in Gustavus, Alaska. I was camping in the offseason and dusk had fallen when a group of people walking through the park were running towards me shouting that there was a moose calf that was stuck on the boardwalk. I had run into these people earlier in the day and they saw my camera and knew I was the “Wildlife Guy”. They asked if I could follow them to the boardwalk and I did. By the time we arrived, the baby moose was on the other side of the boardwalk with its mom on the opposite side. Now, things were getting hairy fast as I knew that more people die of moose attacks than from bears. I told the group of people to stay behind me and I slowly made my way up the boardwalk and momma moose decided to charge at the boardwalk. I saw her and slowly backed away talking softly. She stopped probably realizing there was no way to get over the boardwalk to her baby. The calf was calling to the mom which is what started the charge — she saw me and heard the calf and thought it was in danger. I re-approached to be dead center between of where the mom was and the calf. I sat and talked with the mom who was hiding in some shrubs and unless you knew where she was, you would never know she was there. A feat in and of itself as moose are massive and to be able to camouflage like that was amazing. There was no way to reunite the two, so I decided to leave and let them find a way to one another.
The next morning, I had to walk up to the docks to meet a boat that I chartered to take me up-bay and I decided to go the way of the boardwalk with all my camera gear in tow. As I rounded a corner of the trail, I was smack dab in front of three moose — the mom, her calf, and a yearling. Mom looked at me and her off-spring, I stood still and calm. She must have assessed that I was not a threat and decided to go over to some shrubs to eat foliage. I took out my camera and decided to photograph this moment. At one point, the calf and yearling were about 3–4 feet away and it was both breathtaking and inspiring. My eye was always monitoring momma so I could read if she was uneasy — she never was.
When I made it to the docks, I showed one of the park rangers the photos and she said, “You told me you had a unique bond with nature and they trusted you — these pictures prove that. A mother moose is deadly and yet she allowed you so close to her calf and yearling without charging you at all. Amazing!”
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Wow, just one? There are so many when you are learning the art of photography but learning the exposure triangle in the field was both rewarding and frustrating at the same time. As a beginning photographer, taking a series of photos and then looking back and finding out that your photos are too dark, or pitch black is beyond disappointing. However, what it does help you do is get out into the field and practice mastering the exposure triangle and the live view mode certainly helps get a handle on the learning curve of the exposure triangle.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I fell in love with photography almost at the same moment I fell in love with nature and wildlife. It seemed only fitting to capture these very special moments to be able to share them with those who may never be able to experience them either due to being too busy, having a lack of knowledge and understanding, or simply lacking resources and ability to see it for themselves first hand. Sharing these stories stirred something within someone looking at a photo and then exclaiming something like, “Wow, amazing shot! How’d you get that close?”
I believe my artistic voice, my eye for photography, my innate understanding of wildlife and nature, and my ability to get up close and personal with wildlife is what makes my company stand out.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The thing with Wildlife Photography, unlike other photography professions, is that you are less likely to experience “burn out” because you are constantly outdoors — seasons change, backgrounds change, the subject changes, etc.
However, I think it’s important to be passionate about wildlife and nature if you don’t want to get burned out. If you are not passionate about it perhaps find another area of photography that you can add to your repertoire to keep things fresh and new. In the case of Wildlife and Nature photography, you can go to a broader but closely related field like travel and street photography for a bit of variety.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I am grateful towards Bob Killen, a landscape fine art photographer, whom I met while attending PHOTOCON LA. During the convention, Bob Killen did a portfolio review and volunteered to mentor me as far as showing me different editing techniques to re-light the scene.
Additionally, I am grateful to “The Godfather of Photography” himself, Rick Sammon. Rick is a world-renowned photographer, Canon Explorer of Light, and author of numerous books on photography. I had the privilege of having a portfolio review with him and he said, “You are already a great photographer and your images are wonderful. The only thing I can help you do is show you how I’d edit your photos slightly differently — but editing is subjective.”
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I am currently gearing up to launch, “The Wild Will Show”, a podcast that will include interviews and discussions around the topics of wildlife conservation, environmental justice, and photography.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As a wildlife photographer, I am able to share a story through imagery that can ignite a passion and awareness about the plight of a particular animal or just bring about a conscious awareness of it that may cause someone to care about the well-being of the animal and planet.
Can you share “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Take Stunning Photos”. Please an example for each.
- Find the Subject: We live in a world where there is literally so much to photograph from landscapes to wildlife, real estate to luxury cars, macro photography, street photography, travel photography, portraits, etc.
- Lighting: If you are outside, optimum lighting occurs at dawn and dusk. It’s softer and less likely to cause an over exposed or blown out photo. Watch your histogram for blinking — these indicate loss of information or blown out details.
- Eyes: Shoot at eye level to your subject. For example, if you are photographing your cat on the ground, get on the ground too and shoot towards the eyes.
- Move Around: Do not just shoot from the same angle — shoot high, shoot low, shoot diagonal, shoot upwards, etc. Photography is not a stationary job — not even in a studio.
- Think Story: Do not capture an image — tell a story. If you pick up your camera, ask yourself what is the story you want to tell with the photo you are about to take. Can you do it in one shot or will it take a series?
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My goal is to create a photographer-friendly sanctuary/zoo where the animals would have large enclosures replicating their natural habitat. The animals we would acquire would be zoo surplus, rescues from the legal trade industry, from traveling circuses and so on. The money raised would go to the upkeep of the facility and into a fund to help protect their wild brothers and sisters.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!