Interview with Maxis Gamez, NatureScapes Newest Birds Forum Moderator

by Maxis Gamez | January 4, 2012

© Maxis GamezWhile Maxis Gamez may be the newest moderator in NatureScape’s Birds Forum, he’s no stranger to bird photography. A self-taught photographer, Maxis “got serious” about shooting just five years ago, but already his beautiful bird and landscape images have been published in magazines such as Audubon, Shutterbug, and Outdoor Photographer. In this interview, Maxis shares how he found his love of photography and why his home state of Florida is one of his favorite places to shoot.

Where is your favorite place to take pictures and why?

Without a doubt, southwest Florida offers a large range of opportunities to photograph wild birds and many different species year around, from Cedar Key all the way down to Marco Island.

One thing I find incredible is how people believe that the best time to photograph birds in Florida is during the winter months. Two summers ago, I photographed every single weekend during the summer months with great success. All kinds of migratory birds consider southwest Florida a “rest” stop before heading North or South. I’m blessed to live right in the middle of it!

Are there any other subjects aside from birds that you like to photograph?

I’ve been dedicating a large amount of time, efforts and energy to landscape photography. In fact I purchased a Canon 5D MKII (which I also use for bird photography), a few short lenses, and a range of other equipment including software to help me get the best out of the opportunities presented to me. Landscape photography has always been my second passion. Luckily, at times I can mix both within the same location.

You’ve led nature photography workshops for a couple of years now. What is your favorite part of leading workshops?

Two words: Positive Feedback!

I photograph very little during my workshops. This allows me to focus and deliver a true 1-on-1 instructional experience to my already small workshops groups, which I limit to 5 participants. The rewarding feeling I get from it means I was able to deliver what people expected of me.

Is there something you always ask yourself or think just before you push the shutter button?

Wow, this is a great and complex question. There is so much to think about before pressing the shutter button – approach, exposure, composition, horizon line, interaction with the subject, distractions, focusing points and so on. Everything must come together as a package to create that special image.

Can you describe that “moment” when you knew that photography was something you just had to do?

I’ve always been involved with cameras and gadgets. If you look at my mother’s scrap book now, you’ll find very few pictures of me. Why? Because I was always the one taking the pictures of the family.

After my arrival to the United States from Venezula, I purchased a small Canon Rebel G film camera with a 18-55mm f/5.6-6.3 zoom lens. I told myself soon after that if I truly had an artistic eye for photography, this equipment will have to prove it, and it did!

My main frustration with learning was not being able to read manuals, books or any other educational material due to the language barrier. I didn’t know how to read nor write English. However, that didn’t stop me from doing what I truly love – creating wonderful images.

You photograph a lot of birds and moderate the bird forum on NSN. What made you gravitate toward avian photography?

The Everglades National Park! When I was first introduced to the Everglades, I was immediately hooked to bird photography. Back then, I had no idea about key elements of bird photography. That was the very beginning of my career. NatureScapes is such a great site. I’m honored to be part of an elite group of friendly folks sharing their knowledge and experiences with others. I highly recommend NSN to anyone.

What is your most memorable photographic experience?

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. As bird photographer primarily, visiting Bosque for the first time was by far the most memorable experience so far. There is so much to see and photograph there – thousands of different species to photograph and all within a small area. I remember enjoying my first trip so much that I decided to lead workshops there soon after. I highly recommend visiting the Refuge during the winter months.

Which one item of equipment would you say is the most important to you?

You like difficult questions, don’t you? I don’t think you can single one out but after purchasing my Canon 800mmm L f/5.6 IS lens earlier this year, this lens has become my favorite tool. Using such high magnification also brings a whole new range of challenges and new perspectives.


About the Author

Maxis Gamez is for the most part a self-taught photographer. He started photography as a hobby, but has now decided to devote his time and energy full time to photography. He has discovered that with photography, he has found a medium that enables him to express his creativity and use his abilities to teach and educate others with his workshops and programs. Viewing the world in a different way, he is capable of capturing wonderful images. These images have been featured in local galleries, published in nature magazines like Audubon, Shutterbug, Outdoor Photographer Magazine, Nature Photographers Magazine and now published in National Geographic. To learn more please visit his website at www.gvisions.org.

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