Photography of Roy Thoman

A week in the life of a SCBWF photographer

It was once again time for the 2013 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. My wife and I have attended some of the field trips, classes and keynotes at the festival for several years now. We always have a lot of fun and learn some things about birding. We are not your typical birders, yet anyway. We just like birds and watching birds from time to time, nothing too serious. I will always take any opportunity to get out and enjoy nature and hopefully find a few nice photos along the way.  You may not be familiar with the intricacies of birding as a hobby. We weren’t either. Birding as it turns out is like a sport and birders take their sport very seriously. You need a proper birding uniform and proper birding equipment. There is also a birding etiquette that needs to be followed as well. As my wife and I  soon found out, birding is way more than just looking at birds.

The serious birder looks a bit intimidating at first. They look very impressive dressed in khaki. Wearing their birding vest to keep all birding essentials close at hand. A big floppy hat and binoculars strapped to their chest like a bandoleer. A huge spotting scope attached to a tripod, slung over their shoulder. The birder is like a warrior headed into battle, ready for anything the elements may throw at them. A very impressive sight indeed. Come to think of it, that’s how I look in the field as a photographer! Hmmmmmm, a birder is not necessarily a photographer and a photographer is not necessarily a birder. In many ways though, I think they are similar, but yet very different.


There is no need to fear the serious birder. One just needs to say hello and ask them, “What did you get?” Suddenly the birder transforms from warrior, to a friendly fountain of information. Spelling out in detail the bird or birds they have seen, where the bird was, what the bird was doing, the bird that got away and any thing else you may need to know. So if you happen upon one of these warriors of the wilderness say hello and you will make a new friend for sure.

Last year I was given the opportunity to be one of the festival photographers. I had a wonderful time! I met some great people and took some nice photos. So this year I was once again eager to take on the task of a SCBWF photographer. The festival is jam-packed full of things to do for the birder and non-birder as well.  A typical day at the festival for the birder starts with an early morning field trip to one of many local birding sites. After the field trip the birder may want to take in a classroom seminar or two. Then maybe a stroll through the exhibit area with lots of artists, vendors, and tour guides. There is an evening social to get a bite to eat, mingle with fellow birders, and exchange stories of the day’s adventures. The highlight of the day is the nightly keynote speaker. The festival invites leaders of the birding world from all over the country to share their experiences with festival attendees. I, of course, want to photograph them all. It’s not possible, but I try. The festival organizers and I work together to come up with things they would like photographed and things that I would like to photograph. So with my list of things to photograph in hand I set out to photograph the 2013 SCBWF. To be continued…

10 responses

  1. Jamie@Swamped

    HA! Your observations of birders as warriors is great. I am not a typical birder as I’m young, female, and tote around three kids, a camera, binoculars, and a scope, with at least three field guides in the van. Not to mention I sometimes forget and wear aqua blue or bright pink clothes in the field! One big difference between birders and nature photographers is indeed in the knowledge of what they are seeing, and also in that photographers aren’t near as likely to tell you where they found something, or even that they did!


    February 7, 2013 at 2:36 am

    • Well, I will keep my eye out for a warrior in pink with three young warriors in tow. Oh that’s why you need the vest. You can keep at least one field guide with you. Plus you have room for snacks for the young warriors! That’s right the birders who know the most about birds don’t even carry a camera. Sad but true some photographers are not as eager to share info. Although I have met many who have been quite helpful. So if there is anything you would like to know just ask! 😀


      February 7, 2013 at 3:13 am

  2. Very spot on, wonderful post! -Steve


    February 9, 2013 at 2:25 am

  3. kelihasablog

    True… photographers don’t seem to be willing to tell, but occasionally they will help…LOL. I never knew that birding was so detailed… but then I have never tried it… 😀


    February 11, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    • Birding as it turns out is great fun. It’s nice getting outside and enjoying the day.


      February 14, 2013 at 4:43 pm

  4. interesting read..thanks for sharing 🙂


    April 4, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    • Thank you for stopping by my blog Kavita!


      April 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm

  5. This blog is fantastic and wonderfulllll !!!!


    June 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    • Thank You Vento! I enjoyed your blog as well.


      June 12, 2013 at 7:39 pm

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