The Leon and Rachel Gathany Museum of Natural History is pleased to have been the beneficiary of a collection of nature photographs taken and contributed by Joe Berry. Joe Berry is an extraordinary Wildlife Photographer and a Certified Georgia Master Naturalist. His photographs of plants and wild animals in their natural habitat are amazing.
The following information was adapted from a bio used with the prints he contributed for an annual fund-raising auction at the Elachee Nature Science Center (https://www.elachee.org) in Gainesville GA.
“Wildlife enthusiast photographer Joe Berry has lived in Northeast Georgia for most of his life, being raised hunting and fishing by his Dad. He replaced his gun with his first DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera) in 2012. Joe credits his success in wildlife photography to his hunting skills and use of camouflage. In 2015 his “Still Waters” took second place in a Georgia Nature Photographers Association (https://gnpa.org/) contest to be in a display at Fernbank Science Center (https://www.fernbankmuseum.org/) in Atlanta. Since then his prints have been sold at local galleries and a limited edition featured in a fund-raising auction package that went nationwide. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has used his images on their web-site, Facebook page, and a cover on an annual fact sheet. Joe has contributed images to Elachee that have been used on their website and some printed items. In 2019 his three submissions for the Georgia Nature Photographers Association’s “On the Banks and Shores of Georgia” contest were chosen for the twenty-image display at the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell GA, where one photo was awarded second place.
As a young boy in a single parent home Joe would often slip into the woods across the road to explore. This led to encounters with wildlife in nature and neighborhood kids that are good memories, but also some encounters with other youth and teens that are not good memories. While getting his Georgia Master Naturalist certification at Elachee, Joe saw the great outdoor education that the children were getting in a very safe environment and made a personal commitment to promote and support Elachee with his wildlife photography.”
Additionally, Joe has responded to several questions and shared these thoughts about his work and experience:
Q: What training does a naturalist typically need and how did your background fit with this training? What types of educational activities do naturalists do?
A: The Georgia Master Naturalist certification is an unbiased community outreach and awareness program created by the University of Georgia ( https://www.warnell.uga.edu/outreach/georgia-master-naturalist) . It was a breath of fresh air to get good information without a political agenda being woven into it. We were aware of the political diversity that was present, but it never came up once in our group to cause distraction.
As I became involved with Elachee I learned of the Master Naturalist certification on their web site. It appealed to my hunter component: “Learn your quarry.” And my photographer component: “Learn your subject.” It just seemed like the next step to getting more pictures of wildlife, but it broadened my subject matter beyond hunted wildlife that initially drew me into the hobby.
Q: What inspired you to take up nature photography?
A: As a youth I saw documentaries by Marty Stouffer and dreamed of being able to do that type of work as an adult. Back then getting film developed made photography an expensive hobby. Later in life after my kids were grown up, I delved into digital photography. My first real camera, a point and shoot, took amazingly good images without formal training or expense. I was able to learn what I needed from the forums on the internet and see the results without paying for prints.
Q: What are some of your favorite nature photos that you have taken? Why?
A: I guess my favorite images are ones that turned out good because of ideal lighting and being in a good location for composition. A few were pure blessing of being at the right place at the right time. It takes many hours to find where the chances of the encounter are possible, then plan the blind location for lighting angles and background/foreground composition. And finally getting up in time on a good weather day and getting in place to increase the odds of getting the shot.
Q: What is your dream location that you would love to visit to do nature photography?
A: I would probably like to return to Alaska where my Son, Dad, and I went fishing many years ago to do wildlife/nature photography.
Q: What would you like folks to think when they see your nature photos?
A: What I hope people realize when they see my images is that this Earth and all the natural beauty in it is not by chance. It took a divine creator to put it here. It is fragile, and we must be good stewards of what God has blessed us with for it to last so that generations to come may also be sustained and blessed.
Q: We appreciate your photographic contributions to the museum, since they will enhance the educational mission of the museum.
A: I want to thank you and your family for allowing my images to be displayed at the Gathany Museum. Your Dad began a legacy that is now a legacy thanks to his children’s time and efforts. I’m honored to be a part of it.
For an interesting feature on Joe Berry and his work, check the following link: https://www.elachee.org/a-hummingbird-story
All Photographs © Joe Berry and used with permission.