Art to Share: Jeff Whatcott

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To begin the Art to Share series, I’ve chosen some of the photography of Jeff Whatcott.  I asked him recently if I could use a shot of his for a future post, and he said he was happy to make it available. Once you see these photographs, I think you’ll be happy, period. Today I’ve chosen some of his images from nature–we’ll come back around in the future to explore other collections.

Interspersed with the photographs, I’ve included Jeff’s answers to some questions that el Guapo and I had for him.

pinkflower

How did you get started with photography?

I volunteered to be sports reporter for the M-News, my high school newspaper. The advisor for the paper was Dr. Cullen, our physics/chemistry teacher, and photography was a hobby of his. He taught all the reporters the basics of black and white film photography including shooting, processing, and darkroom printing. Shooting black and white with an all-manual camera was a challenging but powerful way to get a feel for the medium.

 

leaf

 

tanneryfalls

What are your favorite subjects to photograph?

I enjoy landscapes, wildlife, and street photography most. When I am photographing these subjects I can get into a state of flow that is very satisfying and therapeutic for me. I come back from a nature shooting trip recharged and refreshed. I do not get the same feeling when photographing people I know, which always feels hectic and nerve-wracking. Unlike people, flowers and herons and crowds never have any particular expectation for how they are captured.
woodgrain

 

leaves

Could you describe an interesting/exciting/dangerous/surprising experience you had taking photographs?

Once I was photographing some waterfalls deep in the backwoods of western Massachusetts. Getting there involves many dirt roads and hiking in. To get the shot I was hoping for, I had to put my camera on a tripod right out in the middle of the stream below the falls. While repositioning, I slipped on a rock and went down hard while doing my best to keep my gear from being submerged. I twisted my ankle pretty good, but avoided a head injury and was able to limp back to my car. Most of my gear survived, and I got the shot.

Another time I spent an afternoon staking out a marsh wren nest at a nature reserve in Concord. Marsh wrens are the size of your thumb, and they build their nests among the cat tail reeds. The combination of blocking reeds, the speed with which they flit from perched to perch, and the vagaries of wind blowing the reeds makes it very hard to get a decent shot. I learned the calls of the wrens and figured out their general rhythm for going from perch to perch. In the end, I got the shot I was hoping for. It took hours, but I came away with a really deep appreciation for these little birds that nobody even notices half the time.

 

sunset

What advice would you have for someone who would like to do something similar?

I think that it is really important to get beyond the technology of the camera so you can focus on capturing what you see in your mind’s eye. If you can see great images in your head, you will be motivated to figure out a way to make them with whatever camera you have in front of you. Learning to see involves carefully evaluating the art and photography that you see every day and deconstructing why it is that you are drawn to certain things. If you make that a practice, you will eventually start to develop your own creative vision and the mechanics will follow.

 

flowerinwater

For your lovely photographs and your interesting words, thanks, Jeff!

(If you can’t wait until the next time I feature some
of his work, look for more here. Licensing information is here.)

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5 thoughts on “Art to Share: Jeff Whatcott

  1. Pingback: Sunset | Lori Notes

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