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About Bill & Sharon Draker, Nature Photographers

Long before I became interested in outdoor photography, my primary interest was in hunting.  In hindsight, hunting was perfect training for the challenge of approaching wild critters with a camera and bringing home an image that most folks may never have the opportunity to see....a magnificent whitetail buck standing at water's edge, a bull elk bugling in a grassy meadow or perhaps a duck coming in for a landing on a calm lake, etc.   It was much more difficult to get a good picture of these animals than it was to shoot them, and then they would still be there for another day.  It became a mission for me to seek out and make photographs like these available for people to enjoy.   

The semi-serious quest began in 1971 on a venture to Alaska.  I was equipped with a Kodak instamatic camera and three rolls of film.   It was a great trip and I took a lot of pictures, almost two rolls!   Surely this qualified me to join the ranks as a "wildlife photographer".  This naive attitude soon vanished when the film was processed.  The animals were mere "dots" and you couldn't tell a moose from a bear or a caribou from a wolf.  Disappointed for sure....but the good news.....I had not quit my day job. 

After the trip to Alaska, with the urge for outdoor photography still strong, I decided to invest in "real photography" equipment and bought an SLR 35 mm camera system, including a 400 mm lens, a wide-angle lens, tripod and other equipment needed...spent almost $400!!  Competition was keen so more upgrading was needed.   I purchased the best Canon had to offer in cameras and lenses.  

In 1984 I was persuaded by Sharon to dig out my slides and submit them to magazines for possible publication.  That year I had three cover shots of deer and later more covers with rattlesnakes, antelope, mule deer and others.   Then came the request for calendars, posters, postcards, and Christmas cards.  

This success only fueled my passion for wildlife photography.  I entered photo contests such as the Valley Land Fund Photo Contest and the Coastal Bend Wildlife Photo Contest, both in my home state of Texas.  I was fortunate to be included in the coveted "Top 5" each time. 

In 2006 another significant change in the photography world presented itself....digital imaging.  For an "older than dirt" fellow who had finally solved all of the film camera problems, this was quite an unwelcome development.  I considered moving on to another one of our passions -- Indian artifact collecting. However, a few friends convinced me to try it, so I jumped in...feet first.  In 2006 it was a major investment....computer, new camera bodies, new lenses, and new everything else needed to compete in this fascinating world of digital photography.  

My wife, Sharon, became interested in wildlife photography which made it much more enjoyable for me.   Up until 2006 she would accompany me and claims she was my "pack mule" helping to carry all of my gear.  This came to a halt in 2007 when she started buying camera equipment and became quite interested in photographing wildlife.  She is definitely hooked now!  It's hard to get a home-cooked meal out of her anymore as she is outside most of the time photographing anything that moves!   We entered the 2007 Coastal Bend Wildlife Photo Contest as partners and with the patient help and support of several friends we managed to be competitive.  We then entered the 2009 contest and finished in 1st place.  

The many, many hours spent in hot blinds in the summer and cold blinds in the winter trying to get that perfect shot is sometimes very grueling but if people can get just a few moments of pleasure from any of our images, it is definitely worth the time and effort put into it. 

The computer was (and still is) the most challenging part of our photography.  The old saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" might be applicable here but as long as the Good Lord is willing.....We'll just keep on keeping on!! 


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