I bought my first camera in 1968. I sold my stamp album (American mint stamps) to buy it, and I paid $175 for a Canon FT QL and a 50mm lens.
I never really had a ‘breakthrough’. I agree with you – it’s just hard work. The best decision I made in my career was to join a stock photo agency, but even selling images through a stock agency is nothing but hard work, time, and money invested.
Wildlife and primitive tribes are my two favorite subjects.
The only book that has been updated is the marketing book, and the new title is: Shooting and Selling Your Photos. It is still in print and available at amazon.com.
The other two are out of print because they were written with film in mind, but the photographic principles are still relevant in the digital age.
Yes, I have. Stock sales are significantly down, so many photographers have shifted their focus to conducting workshops, seminars, and photo tours.
In Namibia the distances we have to cover are huge. Part of a day may be driving over long, corrugated gravel roads, but we endure this because the places we go to are so great to photograph.
Once there, we take advantage of low angled sunlight in the morning and in the late afternoon.
At the sand dunes, for example, we get up before sunrise and shoot until late morning, then we return to the lodge, have lunch, rest or work on our photos, and then at 3:30 or so we go back out to shoot the beautiful lighting on the dunes...
My photo tours are solely designed for great photography. They are not restful vacations. I always tell my groups they can rest when they get home.
My favorite water holes are those that happen to have great wildlife action when I am there. Animals move all the time. A water hole that enabled me to get awesome pictures yesterday may be completely vacated today.
When on safari, great images can happen almost anywhere and at any time.
Etosha is full of challenges. Often the animals are too far away, the white background is an exposure problem, and too often the vantage points from which we must shoot are such that the animals are lower than the photographer.
It’s almost always best to shoot at eye-level or, if possible, I like to be lower than the subjects. This gives the animals greater stature.
I don’t shy away from East Africa. I’ve done photo tours there many times. The competition is significant, though, and to be honest, I got tired of having 20 vehicles encircle a pride of lions in Kenya or Tanzania.
That’s why I like Southern Africa - there are fewer tourists!
I also do photo tours to Venice, Italy during carnival, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Ireland, Spain/Portugal, New England in the U.S., Turkey, Mali, India and southern France to shoot the white horses of the Camargue...
Every year, I alternate the trips. I add some and delete others. Otherwise, I would get bored going back to the same place over and over.
No, never. It’s impossible to know where the animals will be concentrated. I rely on the instincts of the guides who live there and know where the likely places are to find wildlife.
They aren’t always right, of course, but that’s just the nature of the beast, so to speak.
There are many exotic and beautiful animals that are just too hard to find in nature. My frog and reptile workshop makes it easy for photographers to have a fantastic close encounter with these creatures.
In a single weekend, we typically photograph between 50 and 60 species. Everyone loves it, and they always return home with outstanding images – without exception.
You are right Mario, I do love Photoshop. Sometimes I think I live in the program!
Before Photoshop, I did darkroom special effects, so this was a natural evolution for me. I spend an enormous amount of time using Photoshop, but I can tell you that my income has approximately doubled because of my Photoshop skills.
I am always learning new techniques because even though I teach it, it’s such a deep program that it seems almost impossible to know everything about it.
To take great wildlife photography, I’d start with getting a long lens. A 500mm f/4 is ideal in my opinion.
That’s a very expensive lens, but it is worth its weight in gold in terms of allowing you to fill the frame with great images...
I have 3 DVDs available on amazon.com - two on Photoshop and one explaining my field techniques as I shoot in New England.
Check out this video clip where I shoot a classic New England location at sunrise...
My latest book (published Nov., 2010) is titled Pro Secrets to Dramatic Digital Photos and I also teach many aspects of photography and Photoshop online at betterphoto.com.
The newsletter I write every month is free, and if people want to sign up for it, they can do so on my website. Besides the blog on my website, which has good information on various photo techniques, I also write a blog for pixiq.com.
Be brutally honest in how you assess your work, and when you identify problems like a messy background, an out of focus foreground, harsh light, or blown highlights, focus on addressing those issues the next time you go out shooting.
See the image in your mind and then don’t stop until you get it.
This means long lenses with large lens apertures. Striking wildlife photography requires artistry in your compositions and beautiful lighting, but it also requires (in most cases) long telephotos in order to fill the frame with impact.
Jim Zuckerman is a world-renowned photographer whose work has appeared in Outdoor Photographer, publications of the National Geographic Society, Omni Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Shutterbug, Petersen's Photographic Magazine, and scores of other magazines.
He has taught photography at UCLA and Kent State and is the author of 14 books, including Digital Photographer's Guide to Photoshop Plug-Ins and Pro Secrets to Dramatic Digital Photos.
He currently teaches online photo courses for Betterphoto.com and leads photo tours in many parts of the world.
Copyright for the photographs on this page belongs solely to Jim Zuckerman. Images may not be copied, downloaded, or used in any way without the express, written permission of the photographer.
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