I’ve recently had the distinct pleasure of interviewing a very talented nature and wildlife Photographer based in London, Ontario, Canada. Her name is Cheryl Dumoulin and she has always been aware of her love for photography since her childhood. Cheryl has since combined her love of being outdoors in nature with her passion for photography. As you browse through her photos below, I think you’ll agree that she’s quite accomplished at her craft.
Cheryl, thank you for sharing your thoughtful answers with us and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you. You are a brilliant photographer and someone who’s work is definitely worth following.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
Ever since I was young, I have always had a love for the outdoors and wildlife. My mother would take my sister and I to Kortright Waterfowl Park on a regular basis to feed birds and I attended a school trip to Guelph Lake Conservation Area every year. On these trips, I found there was a sense of calm that would come over me whenever I was outside with nature.
In addition to my passion for nature and wildlife, I have also always loved taking photos. My parents bought me my first film camera and I enjoyed finding beautiful things to photograph. Every roll of film was carefully rationed, and a lot of thought was put into every shot I would take. This practice has carried over into my current career.
Where is home?
I grew up in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, but home is currently in London, Ontario, Canada.
What inspired you to be a photographer?
My time spent out in nature inspired me to become a photographer. I love to hike and discover new trails to explore. I especially enjoy encountering wildlife and learning how to identify new species. I like to think I have a keen eye for what makes a beautiful photograph and now I am able to capture the beauty of the world around me through the lens of my camera and share those images with others.
Is photography your full-time career or a hobby?
It is a full-time career that I hope to turn into a long-term profession. Almost two years ago I launched my photography business hoping that my work would connect with people on a personal level. It brings me a lot of joy to have people respond to something that I have created.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught?
I taught myself just about everything I know using my camera manuals, photography books, and online articles/videos to enhance my overall understanding. The rest of my learning is done in the field, trying new techniques and taking multiple shots while adjusting the camera settings.
I would love to be able to participate in workshops in the future to connect with other photographers and expand my knowledge and skill set.
Are you satisfied with your choice of getting involved with this industry? Is there anything else you would rather be doing?
The very first moment I held my camera in my hand I knew that there was nothing else I would rather be doing. It feels like a natural extension of my arm and I cannot imagine ever putting it down. I know that I have finally found my true calling in life and it gives me an overwhelming sense of satisfaction knowing that I am doing what I love to do every single day.
In regard to marketing, how much of your time do you dedicate to social media? Do you use any special programs or services?
I usually dedicate an hour or two every day to social media. I want to ensure that I am connecting with any new followers and continuing to engage with my current audience.
I do not utilize any special programs to manage my online presence.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
More than anything else, I look forward to finding and photographing wildlife. Very often I find myself hoping to see a particular animal, but instead end up encountering something I have never seen before. I love this element of surprise.
I most often photograph the trails and conservation areas I visit within Southwestern Ontario.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
One of my most memorable sessions was last winter along the Thames River in London, Ontario, Canada. It was a very cold and unpleasant day outside but something kept telling me to grab my camera and go for a walk. Harris Park is within walking distance of where I live so I set off hoping to see something.
After spending a little while in the park I went to say goodbye to the ducks and geese hanging out along the river’s edge when I noticed something floating in the water. At first I thought it was a log but as I got closer I realized it was a beaver! I couldn’t believe my eyes as I began photographing it munching on branches and twigs. I was able to spend an hour alone in the presence of this amazing animal before finally leaving it to head home.
What has been the easiest part of learning about photography?
Learning to shoot in manual mode and understanding the photography triangle was the easiest part of photography.
What has been the most challenging part of photography?
Utilizing the correct aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to create the image you have in your mind is by far the most challenging part of photography.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
I keep myself motivated by always looking for new places to visit and explore. I will spend hours online investigating potential locations that could produce new and interesting images. Every time I go out with my camera I am always looking for that next great image that will stand out and generate a response.
What has been the best source of information along your photography journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite single source. I usually have a topic in mind that I would like to learn more about and will search for information wherever I can 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?
I regularly read articles published on Fstoppers, Digital Trends, and PetaPixel to get the latest photography news and product reviews. At the moment, I am not following any blogs, however, I do follow Ted Forbes’ channel on YouTube and he posts really informative videos that would be very helpful to someone interested in learning about photography.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
The biggest source of inspiration in my work would be other photographers. When I first got started it was very overwhelming, but after I connected with some other local photographers on Instagram I felt supported and encouraged to pursue my passion. They continue to motivate and inspire me to work harder and never stop learning.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
Have patience – You don’t become a great photographer overnight and getting the perfect shot the first time doesn’t always happen. Exercise patience and over time things will fall into place and you will eventually get the shot you have been waiting for.
Share with us your favourite image and why.
This is a really tough question – I actually don’t have a favourite image. I have been fortunate so far to take some really great photos and there are things I love about each of them but I cannot choose one that stands out above them all. Each photo I have taken tells a story about a place I have been or captured a moment in time and for that reason they all have a special place in my heart.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favourite lens?
I shoot with a Nikon D7200 camera and Nikon 18-140mm f3.5-5.6 lens.
Currently I only own the one lens but hope to acquire more in the future.
What is in your camera bag?
In my camera bag is my MeFOTO Roadtrip Tripod, Polaroid Lens Filters, Lens Pen, SD Card Holder and Hiking First Aid Kit.
What is your favourite photography accessory?
My favourite accessory is my MeFOTO Roadtrip Tripod because it is very versatile and lightweight which is great during long hikes.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens – For Landscapes
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens – For Wildlife
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
Software is certainly important for making minor adjustments, however I prefer to get my shots in camera.
I enjoy using Lightroom to organize my images and utilize the histogram to play with the overall composition until I am satisfied with the outcome. At the end of my editing process I will use Photoshop to complete any last-minute modifications and to add my watermark.
Can you tell me about one of your favourite or most memorable photo sessions? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
One of my most memorable photo sessions happened very recently this year during a trip to Algonquin Provincial Park. My favourite animal is Moose and I was fortunate enough to encounter a male, female and baby all together along the Highway 60 corridor. Watching those magnificent animals in person for the first time was something I will never forget. I was literally jumping up and down on the side of the road next to complete strangers completely in awe.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
There are no projects or experiences that I can recall that were particularly unpleasant. I can think of some outings where I came home empty handed or none of the photos I took were usable, but I always took that as a teachable moment. Every experience good or bad pushes me to work harder and get better.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I would really like to learn more about long exposures as I have not had many opportunities to create these kinds of images. I would also love to learn night photography and how to incorporate stars into a beautiful landscape.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I think the future holds a lot of adventures and new experiences photographing locations I have yet to visit. I hope to see myself travelling abroad in the next few years and I also hope to have my work published for the very first time.