Showcase 2021 Winner: Jeremy Burnham

Photo of a white pelican floating on water with an empty can of Miller High Life beer in its beak. Pelican Not "Living the High Life,"  Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2021 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremey Burnham
Pelican Not “Living the High Life,” Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2021 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham

Editor’s note: Profiles of Showcase Top 24 photographers, along with their how-I-got-the-shot stories, are typically published on this blog between January and June of each year. But 2021 continues to be anything but typical, and Jeremy Burnham’s 2021 Showcase Judges’ Choice winning image was unexpectedly delayed. We’re thrilled to share his story with you today and will seize the occasion to remind readers that a profile like this on NANPA’s blog is one of the publicity benefits offered to Showcase Top 24 winners. It’s one of many reasons you might want to enter the 2022 Showcase competition. Entries are accepted through 11 p.m. on September 20, 2021. Learn all about it on the Showcase page.

Artist’s statement

This photo is special to me because it evokes emotion. My goal as a photographer is to capture pictures in such a way that the viewer will feel the same thing I feel at the time of the photo. There are some pictures that I think are great as a photographer, but they don’t resonate with others. I could tell immediately after sharing this picture that it evoked the kind of emotion in others that would help facilitate positive change. It has been used by conservationists throughout Louisiana to help clean up our stormwater collection system and bring attention to our litter and pollution problems.

How I got the shot

I had identified this lake through aerial maps and bird watching websites a few days earlier. It wasn’t far away, and I drove there one day after work. I sat on the banks of the lake and observed some of the local wildlife. I identified this pelican, which appeared to be searching for food. As I slowly moved closer to him along the bank, I watched him repeatedly dive down and come back up with his catch. I was watching through the viewfinder and waiting to capture just the right moment when he tossed a fish in the air. I then realized that he was coming back up with trash, and I started capturing photographs of the various items he returned with. It was a sickening feeling watching him do this for hours. I later learned that this is a huge problem in this lake and affects multiple species of birds in the area.

What I used

I used a Sony a9 with an older 600mm f/4 Canon prime lens and a sigma adapter. It was handheld on the banks of the lake as the sun was setting one weekday afternoon.

About me

I am a hobbyist photographer in South Louisiana.

When I was a child, I would got sit out in the pastures and draw pictures of the animals around me. I wasn’t a great artist and I think photography is a way for me to make up for my lack of artistic ability.

My photographic journey

I became interested in photography secondary to my interest in wildlife and nature. I love spending time outdoors and watching wildlife, and photography allows me to relive those moments. I dabbled in wildlife and nature photography years ago, and more recently got involved when the COVID pandemic limited our activities. It has also been something that my children have enjoyed as they help me choose which pictures to post and have even accompanied me on some of the photography journeys.

NANPA and me

I’d been a NANPA member for less than a year when I entered Showcase. I joined when my interest in photography was reignited earlier last year, and I wanted to connect with other wildlife and conservation photographers. This was the first showcase I entered.

Learn more

Website: www.burnhamoutdoors.com
Instagram: @burnham.outdoors

See more of Jeremy’s images

  • Pelican swimming with beer can, image by Jeremy Burnham
    Pelican Not "Living the High Life," Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2021 Showcase Judges' Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham