Showcase 2021 Winner: Jeremy Burnham

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

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 arial 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 f4 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 go 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, too, as they help me choose which pictures to post and have even accompanied me on some of the photography journeys.

NANPA and me

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

Learn More

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