You know that feeling you sometimes get when you see a photograph, and it calls to you as if you were looking at a work of art? Everywhere around us, whether we live on the coast or in the country, nature has provided us with a beautiful canvas from which we can create our own photographic masterpieces.
Outdoor life is what intrigues me the most, and capturing an image that stirs the imagination like listening to the lyrics of a heart-touching country song is what I strive to do, not just for myself, but also for my readers. A wonderfully composed photo that tells a story is my goal. Yes, I have a “good camera,” but I have learned that the equipment is only a small part of the equation in capturing a high-quality, memorable photo.
But what is the trick to taking a photo that tells a story instead of one that looks like a snapshot that was taken quickly and not composed? Without a doubt, the first person who comes to mind when I think about professional nature photographers is Austin Bond.
I recently checked in with Austin to see if he could give us some tips. For those of you who do not know him, Austin began his landscape and wildlife photography hobby during his childhood as he grew up in Conway, SC and continued it at Clemson University. Since moving to Murrells Inlet 8 years ago, his portfolio of photos has grown dramatically, because in his words: “We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world!”
Tip #1: I asked Austin if he could recommend a course of study for those who want to learn the basics of good photography. “I recommend doing a Google or YouTube search for some excellent online programs where you can get a lot of good information whether you are a beginner or intermediate level. Depending on the equipment you are using, you can search for specific information or concerns you have about your equipment and how to utilize it,” he suggested. Cole’s Classroom (www.colesclassroom.com) offers some incredible photography tutorials as well.
Tip #2: Where are your favorite spots on the south end to find exciting nature shots? “If you are looking for some great spots to see plenty of nature, Huntington State Park and Brookgreen Gardens are without question your best places, where you can take in the local beauty and some native animals, reptiles, and birdlife,” he told me. He also suggested taking photos close to sunrise or sunset to get the best light.
When I asked Austin about the most unexpected photo he has captured, he was quick to tell me about the video he took of an alligator using a crosswalk—the video went viral across the country! If you want to check it out, it can be viewed on YouTube: https://youtu.be/k6Ozr4p7lig.
Tip #3: What dangers could you face when photographing nature? “Be alert if alligators are around. Don’t be lost in your viewfinder and unaware of your closeness to them . . . no need to gamble with your life for a great shot!” he advised.
Tip #4: What tip will help us make the most of getting quality outdoor photos? “Hold the camera still and keep your lens free of debris. Make sure the horizon is straight on landscape shots. Take a ton of shots, but only post the best online,” he recommended.
Tip #5: What Facebook group would you recommend for readers who want to share some of their nature photos?South Carolina Picture Project
As a blogger, it is very important to me to post quality photos, but as you can imagine, nature doesn’t always cooperate. Getting well-composed and stunning photos can be a struggle because nature doesn’t always provide us with the best light and subject at the right time. I carry my camera as much as possible waiting for that perfect opportunity when I can take a photo that I will be proud to post. If you want to get inspired, please check out Austin’s work. You will be happy you did!
Austin enjoys sharing his photos via social media to “highlight the beauty of God’s creation with the world.” You can enjoy new photos daily from the Grand Strand on Facebook (Austin Bond Photography), Instagram (AustinBondPhotography), Twitter (MurrellsInletPh), and Snapchat (AustinBondPhoto). Austin Bond and his wife Katharine are blessed with three beautiful children. You can contact him at AustinEBond@yahoo.comfor canvas prints and greeting cards that he has available throughout the South Strand.
Canvas prints are available to purchase at MISC-Everything Murrells Inlet (located at 4493 Hwy. 17 Business next to Tweaked and across the street from Pet Galley), Garden City Furniture (located at 2444 Hwy 17 Business in Garden City Beach just south of Super Wal-Mart), Inlet Queens (4905 Highway 17 Bypass in Murrells Inlet), Lazy Gator (located across the street from the Murrells Inlet Marsh Walk near Bovines), The Beach House (located at the Hammock Shops on Hwy. 17 in Pawleys Island), Brookgreen Gardens Keepsakes Gift Shop (located in Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet) and Lee’s Inlet Apothecary & Gifts (located at 3579 Highway 17 Business in Murrells Inlet, SC next to the Murrells Inlet/Garden City Fire Station). You can also special order any photo in any size and format (canvas, wood, metal, photo paper, etc.) by e-mailing AustinEBond@yahoo.com for price sheet.
Written for Waccamaw Outdoor Magazine, July 2019 Issue