Lifestyle Outdoors Visual Arts

Three Animal Photographers Talk About Pets and Wildlife

Three Animal Photographers Talk about Pets and Wildlife

Bryn. Photo by April L. Johnson

By Frances Figart

Those who photograph pets often become expert wildlife photographers—and our region affords them wonderful opportunities for snapping great images of some of the most amazing subjects ever to perform in front of a camera lens: bears! Three local experts who make their living creating images compare taking pictures of pets and shooting images of wildlife.

April L. Johnson, owner Asheville Pet & Family Photography, Hendersonville

Specialization: Animals and family portraits.

Equipment of choice: Canon EOS 5D Mark III & Canon EOS 7D, Canon L Series Lenses, Adobe Creative Cloud / Photography with Lightroom and Photoshop Canon Pixma Pro Printer.

Started shooting: As a birthday gift at the age of 26, I received my first camera, a Canon F1 and have been totally immersed in photography since.

Pets vs. wild animal photography: Pet photography is a fast paced interactive juggling of backdrops, lighting, camera settings, treats and working with owner/handlers to creatively compose the animal in a loving unique way. With wildlife, you are in their environment as an observer communicating with a much slower paced, calm and non-threatening demeanor, exploring our interconnectedness through photography. Each animal will look you directly in the eye and assess who you are.

Connect: 828.230.3685,

Jeff Miller, photography instructor, Mountain Lens, Henderson County

Specialization: Architectural, landscape and wildlife photography; photography instruction, workshops and fine art printing services.

Equipment of choice: Camera and Lenses: Nikon line. Software: Adobe (Lightroom and Photoshop), DxO, OnOne, Topaz. Printers: HP DesignJet series.

Three Animal Photographers Talk about Pets and Wildlife

Pensive Cub. Photo by Jeff Miller

Started shooting: Age ten, when I was carefully “composing” without knowing what “composition” was.

Pets vs. wild animal photography: Preparation, communication and anticipation drive both realms of photography. With pets, we have more control of the environment—or we believe we do! We can often prepare in familiar environments, communicate via established interactions and anticipate action based on well-known motivations and behaviors. Wildlife photography adds more challenge to the mix, but it’s a gift we give ourselves. Our physical and technical challenges are eclipsed by our experience of discovery, intimacy and wonder!

Connect: 828.691.5367,

Joye Ardyn Durham, freelance photographer, Black Mountain

Specialization: Nature, landscapes, people and products.

Equipment of choice: Nikon cameras along with Lensbaby lenses. Adobe software, both Photoshop and Lightroom.

Three Animal Photographers Talk about Pets and Wildlife

Bella. Photo by
Joye Ardyn Durham

Started shooting: Shot my first postcard at age nine. My dad was in the postcard business and we would travel the states of KY, VA and TN taking pictures for postcards.

Pets vs. wild animal photography: I love shooting dogs and wildlife as well. But dogs are very different than wildlife because you can communicate with the dogs. They always have a special word that will get their attention. Shooting wildlife to me is a more meditative experience because you have to anticipate what the animal is going to do next and be ready to snap when it poses for you. And it’s so exciting when you get that shot.

Connect: 828.772.5027,

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