Like many nature photographers, I started my career doing something else. A political scientist by training, my research focused on the politics of the environment in Latin America. I investigated environmental politics and ecotourism in Costa Rica and worked here for a number of years as a conservation professional, having first come to the country in 1992 as a Peace Corps volunteer. I now dedicate myself full-time to my own photography and my photography workshops, which I run through Costa Rica's first and only travel company specializing in photographic toursim, Foto Verde Tours. I work out of my home office in Costa Rica’s central highlands, where I live with my wife, twin boys, our dogs and cats, and various hummingbirds and songbirds that visit our backyard feeders.
I hope that my images represent more than a simple documentation of nature. My vision of rainforests and cloud forests and the biodiversity they contain is more of a feeling rather than a rote recording. Although I shoot images that will be useful as stock for advertising, textbooks, magazines, and education exhibits, I try to depart from a literal representation of any subject. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I strive to capture images that are artistic and that portray to the viewer the mystery, abundance, and wonder of Costa Rica’s ecosystems, flora, and fauna. I also try to photograph everything in the natural world. Doing just one type of photography gets old for me, and I always enjoy new challenges. So, while aware of the danger of becoming a jack of all trades but master of none, I’ve worked hard in an attempt to become proficient at bird photography, wildlife photography, landscape photography, and macro photography. I hope I’ve succeeded and that my passion for rainforests and the stunning biodiversity they contain shows through in the images on this site.
Any photographer should have an identifiable style. At the same time, I believe strongly that a photographer’s portfolio should have variety. If every image is the same (e.g., bird on a stick, macro subject with soft light and plain out of focus background, landscape with even light and traditional fore, middle, and background), the viewer quickly gets bored. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy traditional type nature images; I just don’t want all of my images to look like this. :-) For this reason, I try hard to accomplish two things when I’m out photographing. First, I use a number of in-camera techniques (flash, creative exposures, different shutter speeds, filters) to give a different take on my subjects. Second, I attempt to include something in the frame (a little plant, more habitat, interesting light, motion, lines, out of focus background elements) that gives any image that little something extra. By doing these two things, I hope that my image of a given subject doesn’t look just like the next photographer’s picture.
My images have been published in numerous books, calendars, and magazines, including National Geographic, National Geographic Kids, GEO Germany, Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, and Newsweek. Canon Europe has used my images in various product brochures, trade show displays, and product packages, and they featured me in a DVD series a few years ago about pro photographers using Canon equipment. I don’t enter many photo contests but I have been fortunate to have had images honored in the important contests I’ve entered — the BBC/Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest and the Nature’s Best Windland Rice Smith contest.
I'm also co-founder of a new non-profit organization called The Tropical Conservation Photography Group. This group, which is my way of trying to give something back to the forests that have sustained me and my family over the past decade, aims to provide high-quality nature photography in support of conservation and sustainable development projects in Latin America. We're just getting started, but it's the first step to realizing a long-term dream of mine. You can check it out here!
When not out in the field leading a photo workshop, I’m out shooting for myself or at home working on my popular nature photography e-books and spending time with my family, playing soccer in the hopes of getting signed by Barcelona, and moving the sticks around on my drum set in a quest to replace Glenn Kotche on the next Wilco tour . I'm pretty sure these two things will never happen but, in the immortal words of Walt Disney (and Jimmy MacElroy from Blades of Glory), "If you can dream it, you can do it!":-).
Saludos from Costa Rica!