Inspiration from a Young Photographer

Posted Dec. 9th, 2014 by Jill Mangum

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.

Tree Frog Photo by Zach Webster

Tree frog in Costa Rica by Zachary Webster. This photo made the semifinal cut in the Youth category of Nature’s Best Windland Awards.

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!

Zachary shoots from a blind in the Rio Grande Valley.

Zachary shoots from a blind in the Rio Grande Valley.

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.

Bird Photo by Zachary Webster

This photo of Zachary’s won a Gold Key in the Boston Globe Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

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There are 9 comments on this post…
  1. Doug BrayOn Dec. 14th, 2014


    Is this the same young person that we ran into on the 2009 Galapagos trip who was traveling with his parents on a sailboat?

    If so, I recall him stepping in front of my camera to take his pictures. I was irritated. I also remember you being far more charitable you him than I was.

    Perhaps I was being a little short sighted. At his age I might have done the same thing. At any rate I am glad he enjoying photography as much as I do.

    Happy Holidays.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 14th, 2014

      Yep Doug, same little guy only larger:-) Like all of us, he would get excited now and again and forget the #1 common courtesy rule of group photography, “watch thy neighbor and do all possible to say out of the way, especially if he/she were there before you”. It’s happened to me as often as anybody. Like almost all kids that have great parents, it usually sorts itself out. Be well and let me now how you’re liking your new Olympus 40-150mm lens.

    • Doug BrayOn Dec. 15th, 2014

      Still waiting for the lens, backordered at B&H.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 15th, 2014

      Doug, I may be able to get you one here in Montana. Will let you know shortly.

  2. Anna FeyOn Dec. 11th, 2014

    Not only is it great to see someone mentor a young un’, although it doesn’t surprise me, Daniel, you are that kind of person, his pictures are terrific!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 12th, 2014

      Thanks Anna, it’s just all good fun. I love it. Thanks for stopping by and adding your voice.

  3. Fred KurtzOn Dec. 11th, 2014

    I too was on this trip and was amazed by Zachary’s passion. He was fun to travel with.

  4. John A. LeoneOn Dec. 11th, 2014

    It’s great to see someone helping kids to learn to enjoy photography !!

    My wife and I Lead a monthly Digital Foto Group !!

    We help members learn to use their cameras and go on foto trips !!

    We are now working on a 2016 Calendar !!

  5. RosalisOn Dec. 9th, 2014

    I was on the Costa Rica trip with Zachary and his family and I’m so glad to read about him see how he has continued to take wonderful photographs.

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