This photograph is very special to me. It is one of those photographs that changed my life forever. I have had many requests to write the story on my blog about the pelican photograph. “Lets Chat.” It is an awarding winning photograph. It is hanging in the Hall of Fame in my local wildlife center where I shot the photograph. It won the Cameron Bespolka Photography Award For Young Birders. It also won many peoples hearts.
Before I begin telling you the story about “Lets Chat” I want to tell you that I dedicated this photograph to my grandpa (Poppy) who is very special to me. We have a partnership in my photography, meaning anywhere I go with my photography he goes. He leads me, helps me, and teaches me. Poppy is not a photographer, but he is a mentor with great knowledge. Every photograph I take he is literly right beside me. There is not one photograph I post on this blog or anywhere that Poppy has not been beside me. He carries my tripod and I carry my camera (just to remind you I am short so it is difficult to carry all my stuff). when I see something to photograph he takes the tripod off his shoulder, sets up my tripod for me and helps me place my camera, then I shoot and there is my photographs.
Now, Here is the story behind “Let’s Chat…”
In January of 2014 my grandpa and I planned a Saturday to visit Guana Park a local wildlife center and state park. Poppy and I in Guana Park have a secret place where we go and take pictures of birds without having to go hunting in the marsh. All I am going to say is there are always hundreds of birds and all my bird photographs are taken there. I walk up to the birds and shoot some at a distance, but if you are a birding photographer you know that right when you get closer to the bird they fly away. I worked my way down the line of birds on the bridge and one by one they flew away. Then, I saw this rather large pelican at the end. He was looking at me, it was like he was telling me to come to him and God was telling me to walk down to him. I slowly walked towards him. He just stood there like he was waiting for me. I got closer and closer, I actually got so close I thought he was going to fly away, but he didn’t. Thats when I knew that this was special. The pelican was now only 2 feet in front of me and it made me laugh because he was staring at me and it looked like he was trying to talk to me. That’s how the photograph got its name “Lets Chat” because that is how the pelican acted. I soon brought my camera up to me eyes and shot pictures of him. My grandpa was a behind me at the end of the bridge and just couldn’t believe how close I was. After photographing the pelican he looked at me again and flew away right in front of me. It was like he new I got “the shot” and he left like his work here was done. God had it all planned out for me. He knew me getting the picture of this pelican would bring me greatness and it did.
It gets better…
For the second year in a row I entered the Florida Birding and Photo Festival. I was the youngest photographer in the photo contest. The Florida Birding and Photo Fest is a wonderful event! You get the opportunity to do workshops with talented and famous photographers and enter into the photo contests. I was in the youth photo contest. The festival has a dinner reception and keynote speakers. After dinner they announced the winners of the photo contest and my name was called for the winner of the youth photo contest, but his year the award was dedicated to a young boy named Cameron Bespolka who had passed away in a accident, he was in his early teenage years. His parent’s wanted to dedicate the award for the youth contest to Cameron this year because Cameron Bespolka was a birder. His parent’s presented me the award with great honor, but I was the one honored to have been chosen to be presented with an award in dedication and memory of Cameron Bespolka. That same night of winning the award I met another mentor and dear friend. He had seen my pelican photograph and was the keynote speaker that night. Bill invited me on scholarship to come to his photography workshop. From there I have continued to travel and learn from Bill. My life changed after that night. “Lets Chat” is a true blessing to me and I thank God everyday.