Lisa Langell is a professional nature & wildlife photographer who specializes in birds and mammals. She has lived in Michigan, and currently lives in Arizona, where she has discovered an entirely new photographic environment. Lisa often submits her work to the annual NANPA Showcase competition, and has won several awards, including 2nd place in the “Mammals” category in 2015. Her work has been published in numerous magazines, including the March 2017 issue of Arizona Highways. She serves NANPA as a member of the Board of Directors, as well as a certified instructor.
Perusing the website of nature photographer Lisa Langell, one of NANPA’s new board members, provides the viewer a feast of beautiful images of our natural world and the wildlife that inhabits it. In addition, you will find some images that are not usually within the purview of a nature photographer – street photography, for example, which is focused on images of people, and a gallery of “machine” images. You can find all of this and more at langellphotography.com.
Lisa’s earliest experiences with nature were with her great aunt, who was an avid bird watcher and nature enthusiast. As her interest grew, she picked up a camera and made photographs of the birds she had grown to love.
We recently spoke with Lisa to learn more about the development of her photography, and what she’s working on today.
NANPA: While your early interest was in bird photography, how have you evolved as a nature and wildlife photographer?
Langell: Birds and mammals are my wheelhouse. I enjoy making images of these subjects that are calming, soothing, and ethereal. I try to make images that give you an experience, that move you, which many refer to as experiential photography.
NANPA: Tell us about your interest in street photography.
Langell: I find that street photography is a gratifying type of experiential image making.For example, I met a cowboy a while back, and enjoyed photographing him in his natural environment. I enjoy meeting strangers, learning about who they are, and photographing them. Sometimes people will opt out, but many are open to being photographed. One day, I was out looking for people to meet and photograph, when a man walked by, and I asked him if he had a few minutes to chat and let me take some pictures of him. He agreed, and we had a neat time talking and photographing. The next day, he approached me and told me how much yesterday’s session had changed his life. He told me that he had been on his way to commit suicide when I asked him if he had time for photographs. Needless to say, learning about this was very moving.
NANPA: You’ve lived in Michigan and now you live in Arizona. How do you compare these two regions from the perspective of nature photography?
Langell: Wow, these areas are so different. Migrating birds are a real treat in Michigan, as a large portion of the state is on a flyway. There is lots of water, shorebirds, geese and swans, along with the Kirtland’s Warbler, which only breeds in Michigan and was almost extinct at one time. Thankfully, tremendous strides have been made in restoring its population. Michigan also has much more pronounced seasons. In the desert southwest, however, you’ll see larger mammals, interesting birds, reptiles, desert plants, and killer landscapes. I’ve also found that rattlesnakes don’t rattle as much as you’d expect them to!
NANPA: What motivated you to join NANPA, and to agree to serve on the board?
Langell: I believe NANPA offers tremendous value and guidance for nature photographers. It unites, educates, advocates for, and celebrates photography and photographers while respecting our environment to do so. I was a committee volunteer prior to being elected to the Board of Directors. I’ve enjoyed helping NANPA in its mission. As a new Board of Directors member, my hope is that with my involvement, I can further help support and facilitate the purpose and goals of NANPA. A few examples of which include wanting to help continue to broaden photographers’ awareness of NANPA, enhance the educational offerings available, and offer my perspectives on how we can support current and future members. As a passionate nature photographer, I can’t imagine not being a part of NANPA.
NANPA: You’ve won several NANPA Showcase competition awards. What tips do you have for photographers who want to enter?
Langell: When I joined NANPA, the Showcase competition was one of the fun things about the organization. I’m very selective about the contests that I enter. Lots of contests are after the rights to images, and are not fair to the photographer. It’s important for photographers to understand the rules associated with contests, and what they give away around rights to their images. Be leery of unrestricted use of your image if you submit it in a contest. Bragging rights from contests don’t do much for your business.
NANPA: Do you have some tips for having a successful nature photography business?
Langell: As we all know, the photography market is evolving, which means that reliable income streams are evolving. You used to be able to make money with stock licenses, and then selling prints became a solid alternative. Now, selling prints is a bit more difficult because many people are considering interior decorating principles, and nature prints often fail to fit in with a specific décor. Prints of landscape images sell a little better, along with ethereal images. I’m actually developing a new line of nature images with mounts that capture current design trends. In addition, workshops can be a good source of income for the nature photographer.
NANPA: Many feel that digital photography has reduced interest in making or purchasing prints, and argue that the longevity of high-quality prints is assured, where as we don’t know if future technologies will be able to store and manage digital images. What are your thoughts?
Langell: Well, the amount of printing being done today is not what it was ten years ago. However, if you’re going to make or purchase prints, they must be of excellent quality. Yet, at the end of the day, the question is really what the public wants. That’s both a challenge and the fun part of this industry. The world moves forward. There are beautiful things that can be done with prints, and there is still a good market for them. However, living in the past does not drive business. Balance is important.
Special Note: Join Lisa at the NANPA Regional Event, December 1 – 3 at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. For more information, go here