World famous photographer Dan Cox will take the stage at 10 a.m. Monday at the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium to share stories of photographing nature as he has done on all seven continents.
Cox's visit is sponsored by the Boca Grande Camera Club in conjunction with the Boca Grande Art Alliance and proceeds will help replace the failing audiovisual gear at the community center.
Question: How tough is it to make a living as a photographer in an age when everyone is shooting everything around them with everything from a handheld PDA to expensive digital cameras?
Answer: It's virtually impossible anymore. Thankfully, I'm still involved in the business and have been lucky enough to have a long career behind me. But much of what we do is not taking pictures so much as teaching people to take better pictures and doing conservation work.
Q: Why can't a good photographer still make a living?
A: The Internet has destroyed the market really. You used to be able to sell a photo for $3,000 and now it goes for $3 on the Internet.
Who: Photographer Dan Cox
What: Lecture and show
When: 10 a.m. Monday
Where: Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium
You should know: Donations will mainly go the Boca Grande Community Center to help pay for its projector and sound system renovations
Contact: E-mail Bob Elliott at email@example.com or call 964-7492
Q: How has photography changed with everyone being able to shoot images?
A: Photography has always been a tremendous tool to give information back to people on wars or anything that can be tremendously concerning to people. Photography is an astounding medium.
Q: What tips would you give to amateurs to immediately improve their work?
A: The No. 1 thing with everyone shooting digitally is really understand the exposure. If I can get them to understand the histogram that pops up on the back of the camera, it gets people over the hump of worrying about a proper exposure. Because of digital today it's no longer really an issue if people understand it.
Q: What are you doing now?
A: Working on an Arctic documentary project to show how quickly changes are taking place. My hope is photography will help convince people we need to do what we can to reverse our part of what is creating this climate change.
Q: Why has conservation of the ecology become your passion?
A: My work with Polar Bears International is a volunteer position that gets me into places. My wife and I lead these photo tours around the world helping people to be better photographers. It's a lot of fun.
Q: Has photography been a dangerous line of work?
A: I used to spend a lot of time in blinds and hanging off rock ledges taking pictures. I still do some of that.
Q: What difference do your photos make in conservation movements?
A: It's huge. It's not just photography we'll be showing in Boca Grande. It's a combination of music and video that helps tell a story and create interest. That's how I started in the business in 1981 working as a professional photographer. The hope is I can use photography to help encourage people to save and conserve.
Q: How important is equipment?
A: It's not. I just got back from Vietnam and Cambodia on a mentor series. I carry a tiny little camera around and it's actually a high-quality camera. I've taken some pictures I can use professionally on a cell phone. The best camera is the one you have with you. It's really just a form of communication.
Q: So you no longer need to spend thousands to buy a good camera?
A: No. A good image is more important. A lot of people don't even know what a good image is. Typically, the better the quality camera, the more attention you're going to get. We use some of the most expensive and some of least expensive equipment. I shoot a lot of usable images that have all the quality from a camera I bought for $850.
Q: What was your most memorable shoot?
A: I accompanied a group of scientists on an icebreaker for five weeks in the Arctic trying to find out what sort of condition polar bears are in far in on the ice pack. I'll show a chunk of that Monday. This is the first tine it was ever attempted by way of icebreaker. It was really an amazing undertaking.
Q: Do you ever miss the old days of souping film in the darkroom? I sure don't.
A: I'm with you. I look back on those days where I did all the film work and the printing in the dark room. I was one of the first adopters of electronic imaging and I never looked back. I've never been a big fan of being stuck in a closet full of lots of chemicals. It's opposite of where I want to be, which is outside.
Q: Will you be shooting photos for the rest of your life?
A:Yes, I sure will. I do see my tools changing. I have to change, incorporating video and sound. It's been a lot of fun. When I first saw that train coming I wasn't excited about it. But you really have more tools to tell a quality story.
Q: Who are your photographic role models?
A: Two people are important icons in my history of growing up as a photographer. Jim Brandenburg came from the same neck of the woods as I did. Another gentlemen is Eric Meola out of New York. Eric and Jim are two different genres but just phenomenal shooters.
Dan Cox at a glance
Occupation: Photographer, regular contributor to National Geographic with two covers
Family: Married to his wife, Tanya, for nine years
Education: Two years of college at University of Minnesota-Duluth
Hometown: Twig, Minn.
Residence: Bozeman, Mont.
Professional achievements: He is a "Legends Behind the Lens" Nikon photographer, the sole photographer of 10 books, sits on the advisory board of Polar Bears International and is a member of many conservation groups
Boca Grande connection: My mom and dad live in Placida and mom is an artist who's done some work in Boca Grande teaching classes. She talked to some folks there working with photography club. I come to Florida every year.