Episode 44:Today, we’re paying tribute to the last ten incredible guests we’ve had on the podcast. Each of them has shared their wisdom and valuable perspectives about photography, creativity, composition, and connecting with nature. This special Tidbit Tuesday is a compilation of their responses to the question: What does connecting with nature mean to you? As many of you know, it’s the last question I ask in the lightning round of each interview. I find their responses touching and thought-provoking, and I hope they inspire you to consider what connecting with nature means to you, too. Please enjoy!
Episode 21: Cody Schultz
Episode 23: Jennifer Renwick
Episode 25: Karen Cooper
Episode 27: Alister Benn
Episode 29: Brie Stockwell
Episode 31: David Hunter
Episode 33: Michele Sons
Episode 35: Chrissy Donadi
Episode 41: Juan Pons
Episode 43: Erin Babnik
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ABOUT BRENDA PETRELLA (host)
Photographic Artist and Educator
Erin Babnik is known internationally as a leading photographic artist, educator, author, and speaker. She is honored to be a Canon Explorer of Light, an f-stop gear Global ICON, and a member of the illustrious nature photography team Photo Cascadia.
Erin’s dedication to the medium of photography evolved out of her years in art school and later through a doctoral education in the history of art. Her expressive landscape imagery integrates this classical education in the arts with adventurous exploration and progressive techniques. In her writing and public speaking, she explores topics with a unique blend of art historical, philosophical, and instructional ideas, an approach that has made her one of the most highly requested speakers among the current generation of landscape photographers.
Erin currently has offices on two continents, using each as a base for traveling worldwide to teach photography workshops and to speak and write about the art of landscape photography.
Juan Pons is a nature and wildlife photographer with over 30 years experience, with a passion for photographing our world’s most magnificent features. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Juan is an avid conservationist and environmental educator, and has traveled extensively leading photography workshops out in the field and in the classroom for more than 18 years. Juan’s adventure expeditions have taken participants to once-in-a-lifetime places like Antarctica, Cuba, Alaska, Costa Rica, Yellowstone, and much more.
Juan’s decades of work have made him a recognized expert in Wildlife Photography, and Lightroom. Juan’s work has been featured in numerous publications including Sierra Magazine, Nature Conservancy, Audubon Magazine, American Photo, Audubon North Carolina, Wildlife in North Carolina, The Independent, and many others.
Juan hopes that his images, which he often donates to nature and wildlife non-profits, will inspire others to appreciate and respect nature. Juan sells his work directly to private individuals and has been the founder of numerous popular photography podcasts and most recently a new Youtube channel.
Chrissy Donadi is a professional photographer, photo educator, and writer born and raised in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. She spent many years in the engineering world working long hours and with stressful deadlines. Then a career-based move to a foreign country pushed her into photography. With no friends or family near or even in the same time zone, Chrissy found herself with a lot of free time, a camera, and some nearby mountains were calling her name. What started as fun weekend excursions quickly developed into a hobby and then spiraled into an intoxicating and blissful obsession. She spent the subsequent years maturing her talents and now works solely as a travel, nature, and landscape photographer. With as much as Chrissy thrives in creating images, she equally enjoys teaching and sharing her passion with others.
Michele Sons is an exhibiting fine art landscape and portrait photographer originally from England and is currently based in Virginia in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.
Michele’s work is based on a soft, subtle, pared-down aesthetic with fog, mist, and soft light featuring often in her images, which range from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Death Valley, and from Greenland to Antarctica and beyond. Her work has been featured in several solo and group exhibitions and in several local and regional publications as well as in a number of corporate and private collections.
Michele's clients include National Geographic, The Wilderness Society, Luminous-Landscape, and she has been an ambassador for Lensbaby. Her work is extensively featured in the National Geographic Beautiful Landscapes 2018, 2019, and 2020 calendars, and has also been featured in outdoorphotographer.com and naturephotoguides.com (now smallscenes.com).
David Hunter is a former photojournalist turned landscape and nature photographer that moonlights during the day as an elementary school teacher.
David has photographed special projects for several national parks including biological sky islands in Yosemite, caves in Sequoia National Park, and two BioBlitz surveys in Great Basin National Park. He has also done contract work for the Bureau of Land Management and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife documenting endangered and threatened species.
In 2017 David was selected as the first artist-in-residence for the Sierra Foothill Conservancy documenting their preserves and conservation easements over a year in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
A year later in 2018, David was recruited by the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust for another year-long artist-in-residency documenting protected properties along the San Joaquin River in California’s great central valley. Also in 2018, David was chosen as the artist-in-residence for Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, a part of the national parks in north-central Wyoming.
In 2019 David was selected as the first photographer artist-in-residence for Craters of the Moon National Monument in south-central Idaho. David worked closely with the park to capture intimate portraits of the vast volcanic landscapes.
Most recently, in 2021 David was selected as the Night Sky Artist for Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. He spent a month documenting the interaction between the park’s amazing geology and the night sky.
A significant portion of David’s work is centered on awareness and preservation of the natural and cultural environment. He strongly believes it is his responsibility to use photography and education to promote stewardship of the land and awareness of its cultural and natural history.
Photographer and Personal Coach
After being awarded a “beginning winner” ribbon in the Santa Clara County Fair at age 12, Brie Stockwell put down her camera, picked up a flute, and went on to study music.
Although she has always owned a camera, she rarely used it as she enjoyed building a life with an adventurous husband, 4 amazing kids, and multiple pets.
But, in December 2019, Brie decided to explore photography in earnest with the goal of hosting a personal gallery show using a life coach to overcome obstacles including self-doubt and fear of failure.
She feels that working on this project through the pandemic has led to massive growth in both her photographic and personal life. Now, as a certified life coach, she helps other creatives overcome similar obstacles to expand their creativity and achieve goals in their personal and business practices. Brie is currently continuing to explore her own creativity through her work in nature and landscape photography and loves the adventure.
Alister Benn is a Scottish landscape photographer, writer, and musician living in the far west of Scotland with his wife Ann Kristin. Together they run Expressive Photography, which is focused on online learning and small workshops.
Alister’s approach to the landscape is on an emotional level, where each line, texture, color, or atmospheric element has an emotional counterpoint in the viewer. For Alister, landscape photography is an experiential art form, layered with perspective and the urge to articulate something of that wonder through skillful presentation.
Over the years he has been awarded first prizes in some of the world’s most renowned competitions including the Memorial Maria Luisa and Px3 (Paris Photography Prize).
Best known for her dramatic landscapes, Karen Cooper is an international, award-winning photographer based in Vancouver who has made photographing British Columbia her passion for the last 20 or so years. She enjoys developing emerging and experimental mediums that challenge and evolve the long-standing conventions of fine art photography. No subject is altered - every work is an authentic and ethereal representation of that moment in time. She showcases her work through the Karen Cooper Gallery located on historic Granville Island, which is Vancouver's premier art district.
Karen's work represents her declaration for environmental preservation and her deep connection to the land. Her pieces are not just invitations to appreciate natural beauty but are also moments to understand what has, and still can be, lost.
After receiving her education in geology and then being trained in and serving in veterinary medicine for 14 years, Jennifer Renwick transitioned to being a full-time nature photographer in 2016 to travel and photograph the American West with her partner, David Kingham. She teaches numerous photography workshops where she includes lessons on visual storytelling, slowing down and connecting with the subject, and expressive photography.
Her incredible images have been featured in National Geographic's online story called "Underwater Beauty", and in Outdoor Photographer, Landscape Photography Magazine, Lenswork Magazine, as well as Lenswork’s "Seeing in Sixes" books, and Lenswork's "Our Magnificent Planet" book. She is also a contributor to National Geographic's "Your Shot" Instagram account.
Jennifer is also a staff contributor for the Slow Photography Movement and a founding member of the Nature First: The Alliance for Responsible Nature Photography. And finally, she is the co-owner of the Nature Photographer's Network along with her partner, David.
Cody Schultz is a Pennsylvania-based nature photographer and a creative writer. His journey into photography started back in 2014 as a way to cope with anxiety and depression. At the time, he enjoyed photographing any and all subjects and had an interest in pursuing fashion photography.
However, in 2017, he started spending more time in nature and appreciating its benefits on his mental health, and he started focusing more specifically on nature photography. As a way to expand his photography skills, he challenged himself to photograph exclusively in black and white for a year and was immediately hooked.
In 2019, Cody purchased his first large format film camera and now shoots exclusively with a Chamonix 45F-2 camera and a single prime lens.
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