- December 10, 2015
Nature is what the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens does best. But more than plants, flowers and trees of all shapes and colors find a home at the public garden and research facility. It’s also a rich soil and environment for photographers.
Whether they are weekend hobbyists or resident professionals, one can always spy a photographer prowling through the bush and trails of the Selby Gardens, capturing the light and color of the splendid multitude of nature between the leaves and the trees.
In addition to being a popular photography subject, the Selby Garden’s Museum of Botany and the Arts is an equal supporter and exhibitor of some of Florida’s great nature photos and photographers. The museum lies within the historic Christy Payne Mansion and has exhibited numerous individual and group exhibitions of landscape and nature photography.
One of the main events in the Selby Garden’s photographic calendar is the annual juried photo exhibition. Entering its 35th year, this year’s open photo competition received over 100 photos from local and regional photographers and from photo artists from around the country including representatives from Connecticut, Washington, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Minnesota. Participants submitted photos for five categories: Selby Gardens; Land, Sky, & Seascapes; Classic Florida Culture (Iconic Places or People); Birds, Bugs & Critters; and Black & White.
Out of the hundreds of entries, a total of 15 photos (three finalists for each of the five categories) were selected by a three-member jury of local and esteemed professional photographers that includes Perry Johnson, Maria Lyle and Steve Stennes. Finalists will receive cash prizes of $125, $75 and $50 for first, second and third place, respectively, for each category. The combined exhibition will be on display in the Selby Gardens' Museum of Botany and the Arts from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 1 through June 21.
The 15 finalist entries range from Sarasota, University Park, Venice, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat Key, Bradenton, Port Charlotte and Nokomis. The winning photographers are Polly Curran, Judy Kramer, Claudia Daniels, Stephen B. White, Larry George, John Pan, Fern Tavalin, Mike Brousseau, Diane Broda, Mary Lou Johnson, Mindy Towns, Beverly Zeis, Spencer Pullen and Eileen Cohen.
“Share the Nest” by local photographer Laura Bryg (featured above) was selected as the best-in-show entry out of the sea of nature photographs submitted to the Selby Gardens. A calming and seemingly choreographed photo shot at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm depicts three baby birds laying in a nest, their white and fragile plumage bristling in the morning air. Bryg, originally from Connecticut, moved to Sarasota with her husband and fellow photographer Robert Cameron in 2001 and moved fulltime in 2008.
“I think I like when I go photographing I like to walk around and pick something I know I want to walk away with,” says Bryg. “These three chicks attracted my attention, and I staid with them until I got that particular picture that I thought was a true representation of what they look like and what they do in the nest.”
Nature is Bryg’s main subject, and armed with her numerous camera hardware including her Canon 7D attached with a Canon ES300 millimeter lens which she used for her award-winning photograph, Bryg and her husband Cameron travel the country and the world looking for natures hidden and often euphoric moments. The duo has traveled throughout Florida and Oregon, Washington and Alaska. Bryg says that they will travel to the Tuscany of region of Italy to capture that area’s famed rolling hills and inspiring sunsets and sunrises.
Since moving to Sarasota, Bryg has submitted to the Selby Gardens juried exhibition multiple times including earning second-place honors in the garden category. And as a member of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), Bryg says that the key to nature photography is a combination of zen and timing.
“I think patience is a virtue in photography,” says Bryg. “Sometimes it’s patience but nature moves very quickly. When birds are in the nest at this young age they’re really jerky and can’t hold their heads up. It’s hard to get a picture of all three heads in a nest like in this particular picture. I think you just have to know your camera and your lens’ capabilities. That’s what you really have to learn and once you learn that constantly test them out and you’ll be successful.”