Jennifer King is a professional nature photographer and instructor with an eye for design. A former executive in the advertising world, Jennifer now leads photography workshops in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. As a new contributor to Outdoor Photography Guide, we wanted to learn more about Jennifer’s work and her 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?
Jennifer King: I’ve been in the photo industry for over 20 years now. I come from the advertising world. I began my career as a graphic designer, then moved into photo art direction and on to producing and directing photography for location photo shoots in the US and abroad. Nature photography was something I always did to escape the stress of the corporate world. As each year passed, I found myself spending more and more time photographing wildlife and our national parks. I woke up one day and decided to trade in the long hours and endless days of the ad world for the more alluring 4am alarm clock to catch the sunrise. And then it started…
OPG: Do you have any formal training in photography?
JK: I was an art student, so photography, painting, and design were all a part of my training. While I did learn the basics years ago in school, it was the time I spent directing photography that became my classroom. My teachers were some of the top product, fashion, interior, and people photographers in the world. I was very fortunate to have these great professional photographers as my teachers.
OPG: You’ve traveled to some amazing places – do you have a favorite location?
JK: My favorite location is always the place I am shooting. I get asked this quite often, but my answer holds true. When I am photographing and teaching, I become absorbed in the environment, and there is no place else that I would rather be. There are many locations that I visit on a regular basis, such as Death Valley, Iceland, and Grand Tetons. For these trips getting on the plane to go shoot feels like I’m headed home.
OPG: What subjects do you enjoy shooting most?
JK: Hmmm, I like shooting all kinds of subjects. But if I had to pick one I like the most, it would be wildlife. The thrill of the sighting, watching them through a long lens, and capturing something that is unique about them is something that greatly inspires me. For every location, animal, or person that I photograph, I always try to find something unique.
OPG: What’s in your camera bag?
JK: My go-to bag for most locations has my Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm lenses, and a 1.4 extender. It includes a collection of Singh-Ray polarizers and graduated neutral density filters – a must have! A back-up camera (an old 1Ds Mark III), a lot of lens cleaning cloths, and a shower cap. Yes… a shower cap. I keep these handy for photographing waterfalls. Just slip it over the lens, secure with a hair tie and you can compose without getting the lens wet.
I do change my lenses based on subject and location. For instance, if I’m going to photograph the Milky Way or northern lights, then I will also have my Canon 14mm lens and 24mm lenses and intervalometer packed. If I plan to photograph wildlife, I will pack a Canon 800mm lens.
OPG: What’s your favorite lens and why?
JK: My Canon 16-35mm is my favorite lens. It is just a great lens for landscapes! I can get very low to the ground, close to my foreground subject, and get clear, sharp images with ease.
OPG: How important is post-processing to your photography?
JK: I believe the best photos require the least processing. This is not to say that processing isn’t required. Shooting in RAW format requires some basic processing on each image. While some photos will require more time in production, I like to spend my time capturing the image in the field. I find the creative process allows me to be truly engaged in my subject. There is an art to post-processing. I admire those who do it well.
OPG: What is it about photography that drew you to it as a creative medium?
JK: I would have to say that realism is what drew me to photography. I paint, illustrate, and design, but I am a photographer. Each place that I visit and photograph has its own “IT FACTOR”. Finding what is unique about a location, an animal, or person and capturing this image is to me what photography is all about. Photography is a journey. It is about the destination and its uniqueness, simply photography inspired by nature.
OPG: What is the goal of your work? What do you aim to convey with your images?
JK: My purpose in photography and life is to share, inspire, and educate. I get to travel to and experience some of the most beautiful places in the world. I want to share this with those who have not yet experienced it. For those that have begun their photographic journey, I want to teach them how to capture nature’s beauty, and inspire each individual on how to find their own vision.
OPG: Why nature photography?
JK: Nature is full of mystery and beauty, complexity and simplicity. We photograph on nature’s terms. As a nature photographer, I get to tell a story about our world and all the amazing places and wildlife that make up this amazing place. We capture, preserve, and create images that everyone can share.
OPG: If you could describe your photographic style in one sentence, what would that be?
JK: We evolve with each passing photo session. Each location and person we meet leaves us forever changed. For me, right now, I would say my style is simplistic realism.
OPG: What motivates you to teach others about photography?
JK: Photography is a combination of art and science, a mix of creative thinking and applied technical skills. My motivation for teaching comes from an understanding that you must learn both sides of photography to move forward. There is an art to teaching. It requires me to understand, interpret, and strengthen your skills, and the reward is seeing you produce an image that makes you smile.
OPG: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in photography, or just starting to develop their eye?
JK: For those of you just getting started in photography, go ahead and buy the more expensive tripod. By the time you know what you are doing in the field, you will have gone through many less expensive tripods that just didn’t do the job.
Keep reading and watching at Outdoor Photography Guide, and follow your mentors. They always have the newest information on equipment, locations, and trends. You can learn a lot from studying the masters.
OPG: Where are you planning to go next?
JK: My bags are packed and ready for Glacier National Park! Hope to see you in the field!
Visit Jennifer’s website to see more of her work and view her upcoming workshops: Jennifer King Photography Workshops
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