Glenn Bartley is a world-renowned professional nature photographer with a particular interest in photographing exotic birds. He leads photography workshops around the world and is also a new contributor to Outdoor Photography Guide. We sat down with Glenn to learn more about his work and his approach to photography. Read on.
Outdoor Photography Guide: How did you get started in photography? Specifically how did you make the leap into doing it for a living?
Glenn Bartley: I completed my Master’s Degree during the peak of the financial crisis in 2008/2009 and there were very few jobs in my field so I decided to start teaching photography lessons locally. Before long I was leading multi-day trips in Canada and soon afterwards internationally. After a year or so of leading tours full time I knew I had stumbled on to a really great and rewarding career.
Though I started as more of a generalist nature photographer, I realized fairly quickly that 99% of the photos I was taking were of birds. I never planned to make a career out of nature photography nor did I think it would be possible. I can’t imagine doing anything else now.
OPG: You’ve traveled to some amazing places – do you have a favorite location?
GB: I’ve been all around South America. I’d have to say that my favourite places are the Cloud Forests of the tropical Andes.
OPG: What subjects do you enjoy shooting most?
GB: I pretty much only photograph birds and I really love them all. But if I had to pick a favourite group I think I would say hummingbirds.
OPG: What’s in your camera bag?
GB: I generally travel with my 600mm f/4, 100-400mm a wide angle lens and 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. Because I shoot mostly birds that are difficult to get close to I use a 1.6x crop camera – currently the Canon 7D Mark II.
OPG: What’s your favorite lens and why?
GB: 600mm f/4 hands down. For birds the reach is essential and the quality of this lens still blows my mind.
OPG: How important is post-processing to your photography?
GB: I would say that it is very important. Of course you want to start with a great RAW exposure in the field. But processing an image allows it to really be the best it can possibly be.
OPG: What is it about photography that drew you to it as a creative medium?
GB: I think the quest to find and photograph strange and wonderful species of birds has kept my interest because of all that comes alongside of the direct pursuit of an image.
OPG: What is the goal of your work? What do you aim to convey with your images?
GB: My goal is to create beautiful portraits of birds in their natural habitat. Many of these birds have not been photographed well so it is always exciting to be able to capture high quality images of them and then share them with so many people.
OPG: Why nature photography?
GB: I’ve always loved being out in nature. Nature photography came very natural to me.
OPG: If you could describe your photographic style in one sentence, what would that be?
GB: Simple portraits of not-so-simple subjects.
OPG: What motivates you to teach others about photography?
GB: I enjoy helping others learn about photography and simplifying the process for them. I find that very often people want to make the task a lot harder than it needs to be. By deconstructing the steps and giving clear instructions it is amazing how quickly students can improve.
OPG: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in photography, or just starting to develop their eye?
GB: Shoot the subject matter that gets you most excited. Try to look at LOTS of images that you enjoy and figure out what it is you like about them and also how the photographer was able to capture them.
To see more of Glenn’s work and view his upcoming workshop schedule, visit his website at www.glennbartley.com.
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