Making Connections with Photography


Leann Walker

Anyone who knows me knows my passion, not only for photography, but for the outdoors. At times, being indoors feels painful. Relaxation, for me, is picking up my camera and heading outside to capture nature, especially wildlife.

In order for people to see wildlife and nature through my eyes, I try every attempt possible to let my connection to wildlife and nature show through in my images. No matter what my subject is, I want the viewer to feel my excitement and love for the new and exciting things I see through the lens.

In order to make connections with photographs, it is essential, whenever possible, to get at eye level with the subject. Taking a photograph at eye level creates an intimate connection between the subject and the viewer. Creating this connection can be difficult. This may require the photographer to get in the mud, snow or water to enter the subject’s world, as much as possible. The eyes are the key element of the photograph. If at any point, the subject looks away or blinks; even worse the eyes are blurry, then the connection is lost with the subject and the whole image becomes dull and boring. As long as the eyes are in focus, the rest of the photo can be blurred or the subject partially hidden, and the photograph will still be powerful and captivating because the viewer can feel the connection.

Other factors to establish an emotional connection with any photograph, but specifically wildlife, is the background. For example, an elephant mother and her calf, found in its natural home, with its scenery and beautiful sunsets, is such an emotional photograph but that same photograph taken at a zoo with the near grassless surroundings, man-made feeding containers hanging about, along with rows of people standing around fences of the contained area make the same photo of the elephant become nothing more than a thoughtless snapshot taken on a family outing. Keep in mind, the background can either add to the photograph and bring more emotion and story to it, or the background can destroy the overall feeling due to the distractions present. “Anything that does not make my photo better, makes it worse” is a famous principle of photography that should be applied before taking any photograph.

Other factors leading to amazing nature images are to fill the frame and utilizing lighting. Filling the frame means to, as much as possible, have no unused, wasted space that doesn’t add to the photo; also known as “dead space.” Many new photographers do not think about lighting. The lighting of a photograph is also an essential ingredient for connection and emotion.  Early morning sunrise photos are warm, golden hour photos; whereas, late evening photos, known as blue hour, cast a cool, blue tone to the photo that is a totally different feeling than the warm emotional feeling of the early morning shots.

Taking all these factors into consideration when planning to take a photograph is what truly makes the connection between the photographer and viewer. Careful planning and consideration is often taken before snapping the shutter. I often spend hours looking at the animals, sometimes days, learning their habits and routines before even using my camera. These are the most rewarding photographs that show everything I see and feel when in nature and knowing I was able to capture it for others to see.

To learn more about photography, visit for a schedule of our meetings and topics; then join us for a meeting at Stonecom Radio, 1 Stonecom Way Cookeville, TN 38506. I look forward to meeting you.