Get to know our professional nature photographers and videographers.
As a child, Dominique Braud, nature photographer, spent his youth growing up between the wide-open spaces of North Africa and South Atlantic France. He currently resides in Minnesota, USA. He specializes in wildlife and landscapes from his adoptive state of Minnesota, with a strong emphasis on winter imagery. “I love the physical and logistical challenges that cold weather photography presents. I especially delight in the stark simplicity of snowy landscapes, the relative absence of people on the trails when the temperatures tumble, and the wintry silence pierced only by the raucous call of the raven.”
Retired from teaching high school after a 31-year career, Dominique is now free to pursue his passion full-time. He has an intense infatuation with oceans and water in general, “not surprisingly, it is in the less populated northeastern corner of Minnesota, especially along the stunningly beautiful north shore of Lake Superior, that I find the bulk of the inspiration for my photography.”
As a natural history photo illustrator, he has honed his skills behind the camera for over three decades. Dominique’s photo credits include Audubon, Birder's World, Field and Stream, National Geographic World, Natural History, National Wildlife, Outdoor Life, Outdoor Photographer, Ranger Rick and Smithsonian, to name a few, as well as a wide variety of books and calendars. He has also authored numerous articles for nature and photo magazines, including a 12-year stint as a nature columnist for Lake Country Journal magazine based in Brainerd, Minnesota. He has been a contract photographer for the USFWS and, more recently, for the Minnesota DNR. His book, Minnesota Wildlife Impressions, was published in 2008 by Farcountry Press.
As a former educator, “it saddens me to see that, in this age of irrepressible fascination with reality TV, selfies and all manner of hollow entertainment, ignorance of the most basic facts about our natural world is the norm. The real show surrounds us daily, in all its vivid colors, amazing cast of characters and breath-taking drama, and all it takes to have a front row seat to it is to put down the phone, be still, listen and observe. It is my humble hope that my images will inspire appreciation and respect for the infinite natural wonders that populate every square inch of the magnificent planet we live on.”
James D. Coppinger, photographer and videographer, has a background in printing, publishing and media. He graduated from Western Michigan University with a major in printing management and business. Jim began a twenty-five year career at the Kalamazoo Gazette Newspaper in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He eventually became both marketing and advertising director for the newspaper. In 2001, he started Quadrant II Marketing, LLC, a professional advertising, marketing, copywriting, and public relations firm. He shoots and produces professional photography, graphic arts materials, newsletters and video products.
Jim is also a life-long field naturalist, with a special interest in ornithology and botany.
Monika Hrdinova, nature photographer, was born in Czechoslovakia during the communist regime. Although her family had limited resources to travel, her father made a mobile-home car, Skoda 1203 – former funeral car, which was the family’s “home on the road”. Her father always took pictures of her and her sister and the places they visited – for Monika, this was the beginning of her love for travel and photography.
As a child, Monika dreamed of becoming a Veterinarian. She read the few books about Africa that were available in her native language, Czech, and had visions of going there and taking care of lions and cheetahs. However, not much support was given to her visions. “Who would dare to think about traveling to Africa when we couldn't even go to our neighboring Austria due to political situations?”
As a girl, she saw the movie, ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ and was excited and frustrated at the same time. “I told myself that meeting gorillas is something that I can never experience.” After graduating from Silesian University in 2004, Monika started working for an investment company managing mutual funds. With her own source of income, she took her first big trip to Uganda and Rwanda. She fell in love with Africa and had the chance to fulfill her childhood dream of seeing the mountain gorillas.
Currently, Monika runs a travel agency with her father and organizes tours to Croatia (part of former Yugoslavia). This job has been fulfilling as it allows her to work in the travel industry and to continue to discover the world. Since 2009, Monika has traveled to Iran, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Borneo, the Philippines, Greece, Oman, and Namibia. She continues to upgrade her camera equipment and add new places to visit.
She has written articles/photo essays about her wildlife encounters which have been published in several Czech magazines. Her interest in photography ranges from taking macro photos of frogs and reptiles during night walks in the rain forests, to using her telephoto lens for African big five animals, to taking pictures of native people. She loves hiking and the “feeling of the wilderness in remote mountainous areas as well”.
Monika’s travels are not approached as just photo trips, “I want to get to know the country and its people as well”. She admits she has often been on a restricted budget so the conditions for taking photos are sometimes far from comfortable; but each destination is somehow “recorded under my skin and maybe this is the reason why I want to return back to everywhere”.
Bill Lea, nature photographer and videographer, capturing intimate images of wildlife, scenery, wildflowers, and a variety of other natural subjects in “just the right light” has long been the trademark of Bill’s photography and video. He may best be known for his artistic documentation of black bear behavior, the various moods of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Florida Everglades, and southern ecosystems.
Photographing in the Smokies since 1975 has afforded this photographer limitless opportunities to observe and record the flora, fauna, and scenery of the region. More than 7,000 of Bill’s photos have been published. His three front covers in a row was a first in Field & Stream’s more than 100-year history. He has been leading photo tours and workshops since 1992. Bill authored a coffee-table book titled "Great Smoky Mountains Wildlife".
Portfolio and co-authored Great Smoky Mountains Wonder & Light and The Ultimate Guide to Digital Nature Photography. His most popular book, Cades Cove – Window to a Secret World is in its fourth printing. Bill spent six years photographing, researching, writing and designing his latest book titled The Everglades – Where Wonders Only Whisper.
Bill spends most of his time advocating on behalf of black bears. As a black bear expert he has been presenting bear education programs for nearly 20 years, has appeared on National Public Radio, has written a monthly bear column for a Minnesota newspaper (The Timberjay) and has been featured on Dateline NBC, Midwest Outdoors, Rock the Park, the Animal Planet channel, and a variety of television programs.
In an attempt to share what he has learned about bears,
Bill post’s a daily photo and message about black bears on his Facebook Page: www.Facebook.com/BillLeaPhotography
Bruce Montagne, nature photographer, has been creating images in some of the most beautiful and wild locales of the United States and Canada for more than twenty-five years. His images have taken him from the wildly eroded canyon country of Utah to the Northwest Territories' remote barren lands where he canoed 150 miles on one of North America's wildest rivers. Whether lying face to face with baby harp seals on pack ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or walking with Yukon grizzlies, he captures images transcending the visible.
As a young boy, Montagne held a deep curiosity and sense of wonder about the natural world. Today, as a wildlife photographer, that childlike fascination is still evident in his images,. "I have never been satisfied with just producing postcard scenics and wildlife portraits for identification guides."
"Nature is full of intriguing stories. They spring from things I see and events I witness. They may be told by storm tossed beach stones, an accepting red fox family, a silent boreal forest in mid-winter or a common loon swimming through a summer sunrise. By spending time with my subjects and slowing my pace, I uncover these stories using my camera just as a writer uses a pen".
For more than a dozen years Montagne wandered the wild, rugged shores of Lake Superior capturing thousands of images of its majestic landscapes and resident wildlife. From snowshoeing in wind chills of -85°F to paddling its summer shores, the region holds endless inspiration for him. His compelling images and rich narrative can be found in the 160-page coffee table book "Lake Superior Secrets".
Bruce's images have been widely published by clients including Canadian Geographic, National Wildlife, Birder's World, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Audubon, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Discovery, Reader's Digest, Midwest Living and many others. His images have received awards in Nature's Best and National Parks magazines as well as the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.
Skip Moody’s interest in photography began when he was ten years old when he received his first camera from his grandparents. Always an avid outdoors enthusiast, it was only natural that photographing nature would become his subject matter for his pictures. After four years in the Navy, he began a career in printing but his true love of photography was always foremost.
In 1981, Skip co-founded the West Oakland Camera Club of Michigan. He has taught photography classes for Huron Valley Adult Education and many photo workshops and programs. For 22 years, he has conducted photo workshops at the Howell Nature Center.
Skip Moody’s is a longtime professional nature photographer whose photo credits include National Geographic, National Wildlife, Audubon, Sierra Club, and many other books and calendars.
Minnesota native Gary A. Nelson, nature photographer, has spent the past 25 years exploring and photographing the wild places and vanishing rural landscapes of North America. He photographs national and state parks, trails, lakeshores, seashores, prairies, forests, rivers, deserts, wilderness areas, rural routes, scenic by-ways and country back roads throughout the country, from sweeping landscapes to intimate details.
Gary's images have been published in hundreds of magazines, calendars, books and other publications. His fine art photographs are displayed in private collections as well as health care facilities and corporations across the country. He has had two photographic books published, one of which was given the Benjamin Franklin Travel Book Award. He has also been named a master of photography by Outdoor Photographer Magazine.
A selection of publication credits include: Audubon, Backpacker, Men's Journal, National Geographic Books, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, National Wildlife, National Parks and Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.
Carl R. Sams II and his wife, Jean Stoick are professional wildlife photographers from Milford, Michigan. Their images have appeared in hundreds of national and international publications. Honored recipients of the People's Choice Award for the best of show 11 times at major wildlife exhibits, Carl and Jean were also the first photographers ever to be honored as featured artists at a major wildlife art event.
Carl and Jean have published three New York Times Best seller children’s books, "Stranger in the Woods,” "Lost in the Woods," and "First Snow in the Woods". "Stranger in the Woods," was awarded the 2002 Early Childhood News Director's Choice Award, the 2001 International Reading Association Award in the Younger Reader Category, and was the winner of the 2000 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Children's Picture Book.
Carl and Jean also produced the videos, “Stranger in the Woods” and “Lost in the Woods”. "Stranger in the Woods: The Movie," blends live video and photography from the book with added characters and original music. The movie won sixteen awards and was selected as one of four finalists worldwide in the Wildscreen Panda Awards in Bristol, England. In addition, "Lost in the Woods: The Movie," was winner of the prestigious Panda Award for “Best Children’s Wildlife Film World-Wide”.
Although Carl is best known as a wildlife photographer he also enjoys creating nature videos, capturing moments in nature that tell a story.
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