I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a talented wildlife and nature photographer who currently resides in the state of Maryland. His name is Henry Calderon and he has combined his two greatest passions for his craft, which are wildlife and traveling. Through his travels, Henry has captured incredible photographs from around the globe. Henry’s images are a flawless reflection of his connection with his surroundings.
Henry, thank you for sharing your thoughtful answers with us and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you. Your work is both incredible and inspirational and I hope to see more great things from you in the future. I wish you much success on your journey!
Where is home?
I was born and raised in Chester, Pennsylvania; though I also spent some time in Puerto Rico. I now reside in Maryland, just outside of DC.
Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
Growing up, traveling the world and seeing wildlife from all over was a big dream of mine. Wildlife and travel documentaries were a big part of my routine. In 2007, I took my first international trip to Tokyo, and I was hooked. Since then, I’ve traveled to several countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, and more. Hopefully, I can continue to travel and photograph it all along the way.
After browsing through some of your work, I see that you’re truly immersed in the field of photography. What is it that led you towards photography and how long have you been working in it?
At first, my desire to travel was primarily to see the world, as well as to see all these animals I used to see on TV as a child. In recent years, I wanted to capture moments like these, preserve the memories. I bought a Canon t6 camera, then the Canon 100-400mm lens. I then realized that it’d be better to get a camera that would take better advantage of the lens. I bought a 7D Mark II, and the rest was history. Using this setup in Iceland, Finland, Singapore, Australia, etc. opened my eyes to what would become a passion: photography.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
As a wildlife/nature photographer, I feel that I can share the natural beauty of our world with people. I remember watching wildlife TV shows as a kid, as well as looking at wildlife magazines, and I loved it. Hopefully, I can bring that feeling to others who share the same love I have for wildlife and nature.
Also, it gets me out of the apartment. LOL, I can be a bit of a homebody, so my love of photography will definitely get me out there.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Honestly, the hours. With wildlife, the earlier you get out there, the better the chances of seeing animals you’d like to photograph. I’m not what you’d call…a morning person. So, that is something I’ll need to overcome. I know I can. The challenge of it all makes it exciting. Plus, when traveling, I get used to getting up at all times, so I just need to bring that over to my photography.
In regard to marketing, how much of your time do you dedicate to social media? Do you use any special programs or services?
Right now, social media is my main method of showing off my photography. Instagram is first, then Facebook, and even Twitter. In regard to photography, social media is almost a necessity. Not only can I show off the photos I’ve taken, but I can also make connections, both personal and professional.
My website is another place for my photography, though it’s in its infancy. As time goes on, I’m hoping to improve on it and make it more professional.
How did you develop your style?
To be honest, I’m not sure I have a style. Since I’m still an amateur photographer, I think things are a bit of trial and error for me. I guess you can say I’m still trying to find it.
What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly? Would any stand out as particularly motivational or inspirational for someone who might be interested in learning about photography?
Arthur Morris from Birds As Art is a big inspiration. He’s one of the best bird photographers in the world. He has a lot of videos on YouTube and is more than happy to share tips on making great photos.
Another person who’s work I greatly admire is Morten Hilmer. Arguably one of the best wildlife photographers I’ve ever seen. His YouTube videos are incredibly inspiring, as well as motivating. He makes videos, as well as writes posts, about all the trips he takes for wildlife and nature photography.
Brendan van Son, while more of a landscape photographer, is also very inspiring and educational. Like me, he enjoys traveling abroad a great deal. However, he makes a living doing it. One day, I hope to be able to do that too. Brendan has an amazing YouTube channel; highly recommended.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
Simply put my love of wildlife. In some way, shape, or form, working with wildlife would be an amazing thing. Photography has become another passion. Combining the two, it’d be the best.
What do you do to keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated?
I know that my photography still has a way to go, in terms of quality. I do believe that I take good photos, but I’m still learning. That is a huge personal motivation. I look at the photos of the people I mentioned before, and they inspire me. I forgot to mention that I receive “Nature’s Best Photography” magazines, and they also serve as inspiration and motivation.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
Get out there and practice your craft. Don’t focus so much on the equipment at first. I started with a beginner Canon camera. Like most people, I started with the automatic settings. Eventually, I started experimenting with shooting in manual mode. Mistakes were made, for sure, but they helped me improve my photography.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
My main camera is the Canon 1DX Mark III. I also use a 7D Mark II and a 90D. My favorite lens is my Canon 600mm.
What is in your camera bag?
Aside from the cameras mentioned, I always carry my Canon 100-400mm and 300mm lenses. Spare batteries are a must, as well as spare memory cards.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
Two items I always carry with me are the Canon 1.4 and 2X teleconverters. Sometimes, you need that extra reach.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I think I’d like to get the 200-400mm lens with the built-in 1.4X teleconverter. However, it’s not a cheap piece of equipment, so I’d have to justify the investment. At the moment, I cannot.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
It’s good to have, but it’s not the most important thing. I try not to do too much editing, if possible. However, simple things like cropping and changing exposure may still need to be done. Of course, I’m speaking from a wildlife photographer’s perspective. If you do landscape and cityscape photography, then I would think photo editing would be really important.
Was there a point in your photography journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that “tipping point?”
I took a long vacation that included Iceland, New Zealand, Australia, and more a few years ago. At this point, I only had the 7d Mark II, the 1.4X teleconverter, and the 100-400mm lens. I remember when I got back home and looked at the photography from the trip. A few pictures stood out, one of them a white tiger from the Singapore Zoo. I loved the way it came out. I knew I wanted to improve my photography, but after this trip, it became a passion.
What are your upcoming travel plans?
At some point this year, I plan on taking a nice long trip to Alberta, Canada, and Alaska. Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, and Denali National Park are just some of the sites I plan on visiting.
Do you have any new projects coming up or plans to expand your portfolio?
I hope to put together a wildlife calendar after this year is over. Also, I just hope to continue working on the website and make it look truly professional.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I think I see myself moving somewhere where there is more diversity of wildlife. It could be anywhere, the US or abroad.