Shots from the wild

Nature photographer Paul Bannick shares his secrets to success

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  • Shots from the wild

    Kneeling on the shore of Fidalgo Island, Bannick scouts for birds; what he's learned can help you improve your own photography.

Worth a thousand words

Most of us have shots of the wrong end of an animal or bare branches where an eagle had been perched a nanosecond before. Bannick captures hovering owls locking eyes with the viewer and comical cranes whooping it up on a frozen lake.

You may have seen his striking white-on-white portrait of a Sandhill crane on the cover of Pacific Northwest magazine last summer or his photo of a harlequin duck, the lead image on BirdWeb. Been to the Woodland Park Zoo lately? Some of those interpretive signs with birds are Bannick's work too. Organizations like Seattle Audubon and North Cascades Institute are using Bannick's bird portraits in campaigns to set aside habitat.

That dovetails nicely with Bannick's day job as director of development for Conservation Northwest, which aims to preserve and connect old-growth forests and other wild areas. "Our latest project is to link the habitats of the Canadian Rockies and the Washington coast," he says.

Like many people in Seattle who today are doing exactly what they want to do, Bannick spent his share of yesterdays working in software, starting out after college as one of 75 original employees for desktop-publishing pioneer Aldus.

"It was a blast," Bannick remembers. "We really felt we were doing something that was going to change the world." Marketing jobs at Adobe and Microsoft proved less inspirational, and he decided to change his career ― and his lifestyle.

"I'm drawn to photograph birds because they're ambassadors from other places. So they help people think about protecting more than their own backyard."

 

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