About Fred Wasmer

Fred Wasmer, owner of Fred Wasmer Photography

Artist Statement

As a nature photographer, I travel widely, searching for compelling images of the Earth's wilder side. I use the term “nature photographer” rather broadly here, to include not only wildlife and landscape photography, but also photography of storms, of man in nature, even of the night sky.

You might call my work a celebration of nature, but that's not quite right. It's really a celebration of nature's impact on man, and the way it can transform the human spirit. It's a celebration of those singular haunting encounters of power, beauty, and grace.

These encounters can be as awe-inspiring as a tornado churning up a field on the sweeping great plains, or as intimate as a songbird performing a mating display in a quiet forest glade. What they share is an intense sense of privilege — a feeling of gratitude at the fortune of having witnessed them.

You depart such times changed; changed, I like to think, for the better. It is these transformative moments that I use the art of photography to express.

I travel to search out these encounters. I bring a camera to share them.

About My Technique

Fred Wasmer photographing coastal brown bears in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska
Fred Wasmer photographing coastal brown bears in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Bruce Miller.

We're in a golden age of photography right now, stemming from the explosion of techniques, the flood of innovative gear, and, most importantly, the cross-pollination of ideas that the internet has unleashed. I find myself constantly learning and experimenting, always trying to push the boundaries of the craft. It truly is a wonderful time to be a photographer.

Thriving on adverse conditions, I don't mind a little discomfort while taking photographs. I've endured raging blizzards and sandstorms, pounding hail and rain, hurricane-force wind, apocalyptic mosquitoes, frigid cold and searing heat. I take great satisfaction in perfecting the techniques that allow me to photograph in these challenging environments.

Fred Wasmer photographing in a blizzard
Fred Wasmer photographing in a blizzard. Photo courtesy of Marc Latremouille.

I work primarily with Nikon digital cameras (currently the D800 and D810) and Nikon lenses, ranging in focal length from 14mm to 600mm. I also use specialized gear; for example, lightning detectors that trigger a camera's shutter when a lightning bolt occurs.

As a proponent of what might be called total-immersion nature photography — going out into the wilderness and spending time camping in the area I'm photographing — I consider tents and sleeping bags to be just as much a part of my photographic gear as cameras and lenses. When you live with your subject — sleep there, eat there, bathe there — you start seeing details you just don't see when visiting for a few short hours.

About Storm Chasing

Fred Wasmer photographing an approaching hail storm near Sheffield, Texas.
Fred Wasmer photographing an approaching hail storm near Sheffield, Texas.

I am not talking about living dangerously. Such words are meaningless to me. The toreador does not stir me to enthusiasm. It is not danger I love. I know what I love. It is life.
— Antoine De Saint-Exupery

A brief glance at my portfolio leaves no doubt that severe weather is a favorite subject. Yes, I am a storm chaser.

That may bring to mind images of a reckless thrill-seeker. But that's not who I am. While I do take risks, they're calculated. I view risk as a currency, to be grudgingly spent.

So why do I chase? Certainly not for the creature comforts. Chasing means being the ultimate vagabond, never knowing where you'll sleep tomorrow. It's day after exhausting day blurring into week after exhausting week of endless drives, cheap hotels, and questionable roadside food. It means, quite literally, living at the whim of the winds.

And yet I love it, because occasionally, when you divine the proper message from the weather charts and put yourself in the right place at the right time, storm chasing means having a front-row seat for one of the grand spectacles of nature.

Nothings quite compares with those afternoons when you watch the tiniest speck of cloud grow into a storm that could dwarf Mount Everest. Inside is an atmosphere wildly out of balance, and in attempting to restore its equilibrium, the rushing air puts on a show like no other.

Prairie Storm - near Limon, Colorado

Seeing this unfold is a profoundly moving experience. Storms are individuals, each playing out in its own unique way. But they are always awe-inspiring. Always humbling.

That is why I chase.

About My Personal Life

No discussion of my photography would be complete without mentioning my wife, Fiona. Like myself, Fiona is a traveler — we met on an extended overland trip across Africa. My companion on many photo-taking journeys, she loves animals and nature. I owe more than a few shots to her excellent spotting.

Fiona camping in Canyonlands National Park
Fiona camping in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

We share our home in Gainesville, Florida, with three cats: Brutus, Clyde, and Polly.

Our cat Brutus
Our cat Clyde
Our cat Polly.  She is polydactyl; she has extra toes on her front paws.

Polly is so named because she is polydactyl — she has extra toes on her front paws.