The Art Wolfe Next-Generation Nature Photographers Grant
Gabby Salazar – Greensboro, North Carolina
Grant Value $10,000
Watching an Alaskan brown bear fish for salmon in the wilds of Alaska remains one of the most riveting experiences of my life. Safely positioned on the banks of a roaring stream, I watched as the gargantuan bear lurched forward to pick up a fish it had recently caught. As the bear ripped open the fish, salmon eggs exploded into the water below. I remember being so caught up in the moment that I almost forgot to press the shutter.
This was just one of many memorable experiences I had as a recipient of the 2016 Art Wolfe Next-Generation Photographers Grant. The grant brought eight emerging photographers all the way to Alaska to learn from professional photographer Art Wolfe in the field. When I first heard about the grant, it seemed too good to be true – an opportunity to travel to Alaska with one of my photographic heroes! As a young, professional photographer, I also saw it as an opportunity to learn about photography from someone who has managed to maintain artistic integrity while building a highly successful business.
My trip to Alaska was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We reached our field site every day by plane, soaring above the open tundra in a small six-seater aircraft. On one flight, we even spotted a mother bear with three cubs wading in a stream below us. In the field, we were led by professional photographers Art Wolfe and Gavriel Jecan on all-day adventures. We waded through streams and climbed up river banks in our quest to create beautiful landscape and wildlife images. Along the way, Art and Gavriel talked about photography, art, business, and their amazing world travels. I learned as much from observing them in the field as I have in years of reading books and attending photography lectures.
One day, the weather was so bad that we were unable to make it out in the small plane. Although I was disappointed at first, the day we spent in the lodge ended up being one of the best learning experiences of the entire workshop. Art presented two lectures to the group and then asked us to give him a handful of our favorite RAW images from the trip to critique. Instead of simply commenting on our pictures, he took the time show us how he would go about editing each image in Adobe Lightroom. He walked us through his artistic process, cropping our images and adjusting the color until he was satisfied with the result. This single rainy-day session dramatically changed the way I think about digital processing. In addition to learning from Art and Gavriel, one of the most valuable parts of the experience was meeting and spending time with the seven other grant recipients. Working as a freelance photographer can be an isolating experience, so it was very stimulating to spend time around other emerging photographers in the field. In just under a week, we formed a strong professional network that has already served us well in the intervening months. We’ve shared information about assignments and other opportunities among our group and have helped each other develop new projects.
The 2016 Art Wolfe Next-Generation Photographers Grant was so much more than a trip to Alaska. It was an opportunity to learn the craft of photography from some of the world’s best nature and wildlife photographers while forming lasting friendships and a strong professional network. I would highly recommend this program to any emerging photographers who want to take their photography and business skills to the next level!
See more of Gabby’s work HERE.