Your favorite nature photographers likely aren鈥檛 on assignment for National Geographic. But they are likely on this other thing we call Instagram. Whether you鈥檙e snapping pics on an iPhone or a Canon DSLR, if you learn about light and composition, you鈥檒l not only improve your general photo skills, but you鈥檒l start finding natural beauty no matter where you live or travel.

This week, in ourHow to Quit Your Day聽Jobseries, we鈥檙e talking to two stellar photographers who are making a name for themselves with drop-dead gorgeous pics of nature 鈥 but don鈥檛 just call them nature photographers. Both Laura E. Pritchett and Ben Giesbrecht are testaments to self-taught skills and major photo chops which aren鈥檛 exclusive to nature photography, but they certainly have an eye for capturing all of the oohs and ahhs of Mother Nature.

The Photo Pros:聽Laura E. Pritchett and Ben Giesbrecht


Laura grew up in Delaware and is most often snapping pics of trees, fields and delicate details of the East Coast. Oh yeah, and she paints too, because she鈥檚 a total boss.

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Up in Vancouver, Ben keeps an Instagram account that鈥檚 a go-to if you鈥檙e looking for photos of crisp climates that look equally serene and refreshing. No matter if Laura or Ben are taking pics of familiar places or taking journeys into the unknown, both of these pros鈥 pictures make you feel like you鈥檙e really there.

The Tips


Stick With Your Passion. For both Laura and Ben, their passion for photography started early. Ben started in high school and picked up tips from his dad and his friends. Laura started young as well, but at first she was a bit hesitant to take the plunge into a creative profession. She said, 鈥淎s a teenager, I just wanted to paint. Although my parents encouraged me, I quickly learned that most other adults didn鈥檛 like to hear a kid say that they want to be an artist when they grew up.鈥 Both Laura and Ben were pretty much self-taught, figuring out what worked and what didn鈥檛 work with a lot of practice and inspiration.

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Shoot What You Know (and Love). If you live in Vancouver, then beautiful, snow-capped mountains are right within your grasp, but that鈥檚 not the only kind of nature out there. Even in New York City, you can go macro on some flowers in Central Park or explore the Botanical Garden. For Ben and Laura, nature isn鈥檛 the only thing that they photograph, but scrolling through their Insta feeds, it鈥檚 obvious that they鈥檙e definitely drawn to it.

Nature has always been a big part of Laura鈥檚 life and an inspiration for her creativity. Having grown up in Delaware, she said, 鈥淚鈥檝e spent most of my life wandering the woods, rivers and fields around me, so landscapes and wildlife are ready models. I don鈥檛 like to limit myself to one direction in anything that I do though, so I definitely experiment with capturing a variety of subjects in my work.鈥

Ben would love to venture into more portrait and fashion photography, but he said, 鈥淣ature is just the most accessible for me right now, especially living in Vancouver.鈥


Don鈥檛 Wait for Opportunities. Make Them. Most self-driven creative careers don鈥檛 come easily. Often, people don鈥檛 want to pay you enough or at all, and you鈥檙e always asking yourself if, or when, you should quit your day job and make money doing what you love. For both Laura and Ben, the key to their success thus far has just been hard work.

Laura said, 鈥淚 never waited for someone to hire me to start anything, I just created what I wanted and (to my surprise) other people wanted it too.鈥 She said she was a little worried about seeming inexperienced in the beginning, but when your work looks great, people don鈥檛 care as much about how long your r茅sum茅 is.

Even if photography can鈥檛 fund your life just yet, you can still make it work. Ben worked in a power plant for half of last year and made enough money to dedicate the rest of his time traveling and shooting. That way, he鈥檚 not stuffing all of his photo practice into weekends. His advice for getting started? 鈥淕o outside and shoot photos. Lots and lots of photos.鈥


Uncertainty Is a Part of It. When you鈥檙e your own boss, you鈥檙e kind of doing multiple jobs. You鈥檙e looking for work, planning jobs and then actually doing the work. It鈥檚 liberating in some ways and in other ways it鈥檚 totally terrifying. But when you鈥檙e making your best work and putting yourself out there, Laura says that you鈥檝e got to believe that the work will come. She said, 鈥淓very time a job is over I鈥檓 sure it was my last. It鈥檚 really hard to have faith that another one will follow, but they do.鈥

What kind of sacrifices do you have to make as a self-employed creative (besides office birthday cakes)? Ben says that the main things are a steady pay check and the stability. Laura said that for some it may even bit of a lifestyle sacrifice depending on what stage of your career you鈥檙e in. She said that she鈥檚 a low-maintenance person, but she鈥檚 decided to do without things like expensive clothes and cable to get some more stretch out of her income.


Be Patient. Be Thoughtful. We鈥檝e all been in one of those Insta-spots that everyone and their mother has already taken a photo of, so how do you capture something unique and new in a picturesque place? Even for Ben, he said that with so many talented photographers out there, it can be hard to stand out.

It helps to first, think about what it is you love about it. Laura said, 鈥淢y philosophy has always been to take my time to quietly absorb and enjoy a moment and then photograph what I loved most about that experience.鈥 That鈥檚 what will make your picture look personal to you.

Laura tries to make all of her photos feel free, natural and genuine. For Ben, his goal is to create images that are simple minimal and clean.


Explore. Nothing can inspire you or make you come to realizations quite like traveling. Ben recently got back from a trip to Central America and said, 鈥淚t made me realize that I鈥檇 way rather be in the forest or on a mountain than a tropical beach. I love getting out in cold cloudy weather and climbing up to somewhere new.鈥

Some of Laura鈥檚 favorite spots to photograph have been Jinja, Uganda and Alberta, Canada. Norway is next on her list.

Take Instagram Seriously. For photographers, Instagram is way more than a place to post their #TBTs. It can lead to a large audience and some serious career opportunities. For both Laura and Ben, it鈥檚 contributed a lot to getting their names out there, connecting to peers and finding work. Their tool of the trade is the VSCO Cam app. Ben shoots images for his feed on his iPhone and on 35 mm film. Laura sticks with her iPhone and her DSLR, and sometimes she鈥檒l edit in Lightrooom and Snapseed as well.


It鈥檚 a Business, So Treat it Like One. Take it from Ben: 鈥淭he photography part is easy; the hard part is the self-promotion, accounting, scheduling etc.鈥 But the more ways he puts himself out there, the more business he can rake in by word of mouth.

Process, Process, Process. The basics are the same: plan, shoot, edit, publish. But nailing down the specifics of your personal process and figuring out what works best for you will go a long way to make sure your quality is tops. Before she even picks up the camera, Laura envisions the photo in her mind while trying to explore other outside-of-the-box angles. Even when she鈥檚 editing a photo, she鈥檚 trying to recreate the mood of the place where she took the picture. Before she publishes she likes to run her photos by someone else (usually her husband @nicholasjared) to get another perspective.


Keep Searching, Growing and Learning. For those days when you鈥檙e feeling like you鈥檝e seen it all or like there鈥檚 nothing left to photograph, you should first know that there鈥檚 always more to photograph. Ben likes to hit Flickr feeds to get inspired, but it鈥檚 not just about scrolling. He said that in addition to finding other people鈥檚 work you like, 鈥渂reak down what you like about it so you can start to apply those traits to your own work.鈥

In the same vein, Laura told us, 鈥淚 try to learn from just about everyone and everything I encounter really. I think creativity is about soaking up all of the moments 鈥 both striking and mundane 鈥 and then pouring out the unique mixture of what they mean to you.鈥

Perfect Your Skills

Whether you鈥檙e a total rookie or you鈥檙e looking to hone the skills you have already, there鈥檚 no better way to get inspired than with a class. Here are some to get you started.


1. An Introduction: If you want to get a gist of the ins and outs of nature photography from picking lenses to finding your subject, this class covers all of that and more. Art Wolfe is a photo pro who鈥檚 going to teach you right into loving photography even more. ($59 for a 12-part course)


2. Know Your Lighting: In photography, the sun can be your best friend or your worst enemy. This class teaches how to embrace the light (or lack thereof) from sunrise until long after the sun sets. ($96 for annual Skillshare subscription to view all classes)

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3. Go Macro: Chances are, your camera can do way more than you give it credit for. With the right lens and the right perspective, you can get a close-up view of nature to make you feel like you鈥檙e one with the flowers. ($35 for a 7-part course)


4. Get Some Perspectives: It鈥檚 time to look beyond that sunset photo you鈥檝e taken from your window a dozen times. This Skillshare class covers four key perspectives to capture to get the full scope of a place. ($96 for annual Skillshare subscription to view all classes)


5. On Your Smartphone: Even pro photographers rely on their little smartphones to capture big moments. It鈥檚 the camera you use most often, so why not learn to make the most of it? ($96 for annual Skillshare subscription to view all classes)

Now, go forth and capture your surroundings. We鈥檇 love to hear any photography tips you have and who you follow for inspiration.

What passion would you like to see covered in your Live Your Love Series? Let us know in the comments!