As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, Everglades National Park does not have any huge iconic locations like most other national parks. It is a beautiful landscape no doubt, but it takes a bit more work to figure out what to make of it than when you go somewhere like Yosemite where you have Half Dome and El Capitan jumping out at you. In the Everglades one can look around aimlessly thinking “Hmmmm…..what IS my subject?”
I admit I was a little worried about coming home without the images I hoped for so I gave myself a great birthday present by hiring a local photographer to give me a private photo tour through the everglades. I needed someone to show me the ropes.
The perfect guide for me was Paul Marcellini. He is a photographer whose work I became familiar with on Google Plus. He’s a young guy and I wasn’t sure how many photo tours he could have done before, but his work spoke for itself. He obviously knew where to go and what to do and if I came home with photos half as good as his I would be delighted. Paul grew up near the Everglades and had a lot of experience in that location.
It turned out that Paul had led a number of tours in the past and also had years of experience as an Eco-Tour Guide, so not only did I get photography advice, but I got a lot of information about the flora and fauna as well.
The first thing that impressed me about Paul was something that happened the day before our tour. After the campsite was set up I decided to go for a walk at a nearby trail. A fellow passed me on the trail, a young guy with curly black hair, a photo bag and monopod. It had to be him (I had seen his profile photo on G+). I guess I look like my profile photo too because shortly after he came back along the trail and he too had identified me as his client for the next day’s tour.
What was impressive was that he was scouting out locations! Here’s a guy who grew up here, had a ton of images of the area, yet still went out the day before hand to check out the state of various locations. He was prepared.
For me one of the best parts of the tour was the slough slogging. Here’s me slogging in the cypress swamp – photo courtesy of Paul Marcellini.
What exactly is slogging? That’s when you go walking out into thigh deep water unsure what you are stepping on, what creatures might bite your toes, or whether you might attract the attention of an alligator. This is something I would never have done on my own. It was great fun experiencing a whole new world in the cypress swamp and having Paul tell me exactly where to step and where not to step was reassuring.
I also got to borrow his giant lens!! Check out me with this monstrous 500mm lens – photo courtesy of Paul Marcellini.
Here’s the image I made with Paul’s giant lens.
Over the next few days I will show you more of the images I made on my tour with Paul – it was a great birthday!
If you ever find yourself going to a location for a limited amount of time and unsure of where to go or what scary things might bite you along the way, consider hiring a guide! And if you are going to the Everglades, consider Paul Marcellini. Here are some links to help you find him:
Have you ever hired a personal photography guide? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments.