A Landscape, Seascape, and Nature Photographer Living the Dream on Florida’s First Coast.
A Maryland guy. So nice to meet you, Steve. So tell us in what part of First Coast do you reside now and how long have you lived there?
St. Augustine, full time about three years. In spirit, about 70 years.
What is your favorite part of the First Coast to photograph?
So many locations to choose from! Right now, I would have to say it’s the coastline from Marineland down to Washington Oaks. The Coquina rock formations make for some dramatic sunrise photography..
What type of equipment do you use?
I have always used Nikon cameras and lenses for both nature and landscape work.
How long have you been part of the hobby?
Just about twenty years.
Do you do any type of planning before you head out to take photos or do you just wing it?
Great question; for me, planning is essential for a successful shoot. You may never have those exact weather conditions again so don’t risk not being prepared to shoot your best work every time you go out. Have a checklist. Always have your gear ready and know exactly where you are going and what you need for that location. I honestly think winging it gets you nice pictures but not truly great photographs.
Are there any constants in your photography, if so what are they? (ie. subjects, editing, lens, etc.)
The only true constant in photography is change. Shooting an ocean sunrise with a wide-angle lens will always be my favorite subject. Every time I shoot a sunrise, it is different. The sky, the waves, the beach, the tides are never the same for two outings in a row.
How would you describe your style of photography?
A combination of nature, landscape, and travel photography.
Do you edit your photos right after your shoot or do you let them sit for a while?
This is kind of a yes, no-answer. I’ll edit a few shots right away but may go back to those raw files days and months later and pick more shots to edit.
Where is your favorite place (or type of place) to take photos?
It will always be the ocean.
If you could live in any decade (with your current photographic gear), which one would it be and why?
Probably the late 60’s. Growing up in Maryland, I can still remember Ocean City before there were high rises and condos to the Delaware state line. It would be great to be able to capture those unspoiled beaches with my current gear. Not to mention TOP 40 radio was fantastic then.
What photographer (current or historical) do you draw the most inspiration from?
Too many to give you a single answer. Being self-taught, I am always studying and admiring fellow photographers’ work. I try to learn constantly from their techniques, style, and perspective.
What do you think is the most important component to producing great results? (camera, lens, light, editing, location, artistic vision, etc.)
I guess it would be too simplistic to say all of the above. A skilled photographer can take great photographs with just about any gear. It has to be your knowledge, experience and artistic vision.
Is there a ritual that you use to get into a creative zone?
Rise early, have great strong coffee, talk to the dogs (they do understand what I am saying) and go!
What outside (non-photographic) influences (if any) shape your photography?
Without a doubt, it would be my wife. She has encouraged me from day one. It makes this hobby so much easier when you have support.
What advice would you give someone who just picked up their new camera on how to get started?
Never be afraid or intimated by your gear or other photographers. 99% of us are more than glad to answer questions, show you how to use equipment and share our knowledge. Join a local camera club. Join online groups that use your brand of camera. Practice as often as you can–even if you are just shooting the family dog every day you are growing and learning.
What is the goal of your photography? (A business, just to share on social media, gateway to adventure, etc.)
Personal enjoyment by far; everything else is a distant second. For me, photography is one of the reasons why I want to get up every day. Plus, I have to walk two crazy wiener dogs.
Do you shoot with your editing style in mind, or do you edit based on the shot that you got?
A little of both. I try to visualize the shot I want to capture as I set up at a location. Sometimes I will do multiple edits to a photo to decide the best result.
Do you prefer to photograph alone or in a group?
Photographing alone– it’s easier to maintain your focus and thought process. Groups are fun and a great way to share information and to learn.
How do you feel like social media has changed photography and do you think it’s a good or bad thing?
Social media has made it possible to share your work immediately with thousands of like-minded people. Can you imagine if a great photographer like Ansel Adams could post his work daily. I cannot think of a faster way to learn, grow and improve than getting instant feedback from your peers.
What is the best way for photographers to network?
See the previous answer! Other than joining an active local camera club, you will be able to find more fellow photographers in a number of places online.
Do you enjoy books? If so, any specific genre?
I only look at the pictures! I am a visual person and a tactile learner with a 10-second attention span. (Just kidding, kind of).
What is your favorite photographic accomplishment?
Other than winning awards and receiving recognition from peers, its being able to donate my work for charity auctions to help raise money for worthy causes I believe in.
If you had a question you would like to ask another photographer what would it be?
What are you shooting with? What settings are you using?
What’s the best thing for you about living on the First Coast?
Everything. The weather, the people, the fish tacos, the food trucks. There are very few places left where you can smile at a total stranger, make eye contact and have a conversation while in line at Publix. That’s the real Florida, I hope that never goes away.
What is the best thing about being a photographer?
It’s knowing that You capture an exact moment in time that can never be duplicated. You can always enjoy that moment in time wherever you are.
Is there anything else that you want to tell everyone?
Do something you love and do it to the best of your ability. Never stop learning, mistakes make you better.
How can we see your work?
www.stevebrooksphotography.com, on Instagram @steve_brooks_photography, and on Facebook at Steve Brooks
- About the Author
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Glenn is the founder and publisher of First Coast Life. He is also a wonderful storyteller. Born on the 4th of July, he spends his spare time taking his camera and exploring everything beautiful this region offers with his rescue dog Callie by his side. He loves meeting new people and capturing the many beautiful moments and amazing local stories that showcase the true spirit of the area.