Inspiration from a Young Photographer
The majority of guests who travel on NE invitational photo tours are full-fledged adults, retirees or those with full-time careers, who have a passion for nature and the art of photography. But from time to time, we have the pleasure of hosting someone from the younger generation, usually a seasoned traveler who is fortunate to have experienced the world at a young age.
A couple of years ago, thirteen-year-old Zachary Webster joined his parents on a Natural Exposures’ Costa Rica Photography Tour. It was here that he captured the photo of a tree frog (shown below) which was recently selected for the semifinal cut of Nature’s Best Windland Awards youth category—just one of Zachary’s several accomplishments in the field of photography.
How many teenagers do you know who are eager to wake up before the birds in pursuit of the perfect image? Spend a whole day in an animal blind? Study an animal guidebook in its entirety? Most of us can probably answer any of these questions with a resounding not too many!
From the time he was a toddler, Zachary Webster’s curiosity was sparked by the natural world. He spent his time looking at and studying fish books with his mother Elizabeth, identifying the different types of triggerfish, rays, and sharks. Animals organized by natural order covered the walls of his bedroom. “You can’t put antelope next to cheetah,” he would tell his parents.
Zach first showed interest in photography while on a trip in Alaska at the age of eight. The young boy tugged at his father Steve’s sleeve, and it reminded Steve of his own enjoyment of being behind the lens during his early career as a newspaper photojournalist.
Growing up in a family with an affinity for bird photography, Zachary naturally developed a love for birds, especially the flying kind. His parents recall a trip to Africa when Zachary took it upon himself to study the guidebooks so he could identify all of the birds they saw during their trip.
Daniel met Zachary for the first time on a Natural Exposures Galapagos trip when Zachary was just ten years old. While Dan was taking a photograph, Zachary elbowed into him; rather than getting irritated, Dan started explaining white balance to the inquisitive child. Dan would become one of the many mentors Zachary would be fortunate to have the pleasure of learning from.
Now 15, Zachary continues to embrace his passions for photography and nature, on his own and with his family. His life work is still mostly undiscovered by the public, though he often receives calls from Boston-area nature and bird photographers who have recognized his talent and commitment and are heading out on a shoot.
Whether or not he pursues photography professionally in the coming years, both photography and nature will continue to be a key part of his life. It’s comforting to know that there are young folks out there who not only enjoy the great outdoors and all that nature has to offer, but who also respect and want to learn about it – for all of those things, we recognize and commend Zachary.
So get out there and get that perfect shot. Learn about what you’re photographing. Take an active interest in the natural world. Enter those photo contests. You never know where it might lead.