5-time Michigan Photographer of the Year finds new calling capturing award-winning bird images

SAGINAW, MI — It is in the wild now wherever Steve Jessmore finds his quiet.

And it is in the wild in which the Saginaw-born photographer discovered accomplishment he likened to lightning figuratively striking him two times.

For the 2nd consecutive year, Jessmore’s imagery acquired him just one of eight prizes in the 2022 Audubon Photography Awards. Introduced by the Countrywide Audubon Society, the annual competitiveness spotlights the greatest in birdlife photography from all around the U.S.

More than 2,500 photographers submitted 10,000 pictures for the competitors this yr. Of individuals, his graphic showcasing a pond complete of feeding ducks snatched the Audubon’s Fisher Prize, which acknowledges the most artistic strategy in capturing birds on movie.

Jessmore, 62, is no stranger to recognition for his expertise with a lens. He collected a good deal of accolades as a photojournalist with The Saginaw Information from 1976-1999 and The Flint Journal from 1999-2008, together with 5 Michigan Push Photographer Association Photographer of the Yr awards.

Even now, he considers the national prestige connected with the Audubon awards — and the point he was recognized 3 times all through the only two a long time he at any time entered the contest — as his crowning achievement in pictures.

“It’s a wonderful validation,” he stated. “It’s not my major position — just one thing I have been undertaking in my down time — so it’s genuinely gratifying and gratifying to be recognized again this way.”

Jessmore’s flip towards mother nature photography began two decades ago.

A freelance photographer for universities considering that transferring to Grand Rapids in 2018 with his wife — Brenda Hasso, of Tittabawassee Township — Jessmore’s assignment possibilities dried up at the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when persons ended up working towards social distancing, he made a decision to grasp wildlife pictures.

Soaking up advice from friends in mother nature pictures, updating his products, and purchasing a kayak, Jessmore began exploring Michigan’s westernmost waterways in 2020. Within just months, he captured photos of a cardinal in mid-flight as nicely as a hawk searching a chipmunk, which acquired him first place and honorable mention recognitions, respectively, in the Skilled Award group for the 2021 Audubon contest.

The picture honored by the competition’s judges this yr was snapped by Jessmore in the course of an outing close to the Muskegon County Wastewater Management Process on a chilly and windy November early morning the 7 days following Thanksgiving. Which is when he arrived across a massive team of Northern Shoveler ducks that landed on a pond to feed on the fish beneath the surface area.

He stated the scene at 1st lacked a photogenic zeal, with the tightly-packed assembly of birds holding their heads down for the duration of considerably of the feast.

“I watched those people ducks for just about two hrs,” explained Jessmore, armed that day with a Sony Alpha 1 mirrorless camera. “For a whilst, it was just like a carpet of ducks filling my frame. It was almost nothing, and I didn’t know what to do, and it was driving me outrageous.”

His endurance paid out off, however, when a person of the ducks lifted its beak from the water and flapped its wings. Set in opposition to the however backdrop of its foraging friends, the creature’s flurry of action brought the entire composition to life.

“With his inexperienced head, shovel-shaped bill, yellow eyes, and placing sky-blue panels, he looked statuesque for a next or two in advance of dropping back again to feed,” Jessmore recalled.

Together with earning him the Fisher Prize, editors utilized the image on the include of the summer months 2022 edition of Audubon journal.

Jessmore credited the innovative spirit expended searching for that perfect image in portion on classes acquired whilst attending classes at the Saginaw Art Museum as a youngster. And he when compared the rush of fowl pictures to his job in photojournalism, which commenced when he was a 16-year-outdated Saginaw News freelancer assigned to cover concerts at the Saginaw Civic Heart.

“I by no means considered this was what I would do when I retired,” Jessmore explained of his transformation into a character photographer. “I love it.”

To see a lot more of Jessmore’s pictures, stop by his Instagram, @sjessmo, where he publishes information consistently.

Steve Jessmore

In this picture delivered by Bruce Edwards, photographer Steve Jessmore prepares to seize images of nature. Jessmore worked for each The Saginaw News and Flint Journal from 1976-2008.Bruce Edwards

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