Thursday, 9 August 2012 By: Jenny Vu

"Chris the Phototog" - Interview with Chris Hansen

I was on Google + when a photo caught my eye. It was a photo of a crawling spider silhouette in front of the sun. It was absolutely amazing! I HAD to look at the blog and find out who took the photo. I discovered that the blog belonged to an American man who blogs about his daily photography adventures. The writer of the blog is Chris Hansen and this is what I learnt about him and about photography.

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Tell us a little bit about your childhood. 
How did you get into wildlife photography?
Chris: My childhood years were spent in the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Loveland, Colorado. I'm from an outdoor oriented family so we did a lot of camping, fishing and hunting. When I was sixteen we moved to Santa Rosa in Northern California. My father gave me an old Argus C3 35 mm camera to keep me occupied while adjusting to a new place. I started taking photography classes at the local high school and continued taking them through college even though that wasn't my major. Photography became my passion and a way of showing other people nature and the outdoors.

Light in the Forest
Where do you live? 
You have such a great selection of 'models'.
Chris: I live in a great spot for photography. I live on a ridge top about four miles west of the town of Willits in the middle of the forest in Mendocino County in Northern California. We have Redwood trees and an abundance of birds and wildlife in the area.
Oak Titmouse
How did you learn all these photography skills?
Chris: The majority of my basic photography skills came from taking photography classes.In my twenties I discovered a book on nature photography by Leonard Lee LaRue II. His book introduced me to many techniques of wildlife and bird photography and the use of photography blinds. From there it has a lot of self education.

Anna's Hummingbird
How did you get to writing blogs? 
What inspired you to write one? 
Chris: My major inspiration for writing blogs started with my desire to help other photographers with simple ideas. In June of 2008 I ran across Blogspot one day and thought I'd like to do that! I had just photographed a lizard and I wanted to share my technique for photographing it. I wanted to share my idea with other photographers. That was my first blog. Later I realized it would be a great vehicle for sharing my photography and in March of 2010 "Chris the Photog" was born with my first blog entry "On the Run" with some images of my dog.

The blog that Chris first mentions here is It is written by Chris to help amateur/beginning nature photographers. He has written step by step tutorials on different photography techniques and ways to set up mini-studio settings.

Mad for Mushrooms
What exactly is your Photo blog about?
Chris: My photoblog "Chris the Photog" is about sharing the God given gift of my photography. It covers almost on a daily basis what I photograph. It gives readers a glimpse of my photography and some of my life. It is primarily focused on nature and wildlife photos but there are always a few stock style photographs thrown in.

Western Pond Turtle
Who do you think your audience is?
Chris: I'm hoping my audience is made up of people who really enjoy photography and appreciate the outdoors. The majority of my photography is of that genre so I would like my images to be pleasing for them to view.

California Valley Quail
I love how you write a small story each time you post photos. 
What inspired you to share the background story of the photos rather than just posting simple location information?
Chris: I got the inspiration from a fellow photography friend of mine Jon Klein. He found that he was selling more images when he included a little background story with the images he was selling in galleries. I decided to try doing it with my photoblog. I really think it does add interest for some people. It gives them a better idea of who I am and shows them a little slice nature that they get to share and be a small part of when they read and view my photoblog.

Full Eclipse of the Moon
Can you give us an example of one of your favorite photography moments that you've written about on your photo blog?
Chris: One of my favorite blog entries was photographing Harbor Seals in the Noyo River (June 13, 2011) here on the north coast of California. I had one Harbor Seal that was hunting fish all around my kayak. It was an incredibly intimate moment to be so close to a seal watching it hunt fish right beside me in my kayak. It would swim on its back with its head facing downward in the water to better see the fish in the shallow water. I also got to photograph a California Sea Lion sleeping on the bank of the river. I paddled a long way that day and I came home pretty beat with some excellent images.

Harbor Seal in the Noyo River
To finish off, from your experience as a photographer 
what is the best tip you can give to an amateur hoping to become a professional?
Chris: This is probably the most difficult question for me because I'm still working at it myself. I don't believe there is any magic formula or singular tip that will help an amateur to become a professional. Mostly it is the fact that it takes a lot of hard work to succeed. For starters you should know your cameras and equipment and be able to use them in a professional manner. My experience so far has shown me that taking images is just a small part of photography.You need to know how to use imaging software and process your images in an acceptable, useable format. After that there is a lot of work editing and cataloging your images. Following that you have to get your work out there to be seen by prospective buyers and viewers. In conclusion you need to have passion, a definite goal in mind and be able to work hard to succeed at it.

Girl of the Sunset
I would like to thank Chris for letting me interview him and learn that little bit more about wildlife photography. These tips will definitely help me on my way to becoming a professional. Check out his other photos on his blog:
I hope you enjoyed reading this :)


HJ Smylski said...

Nice long interview.
His name rings a bell, but I have no idea where I seen/heard it from.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Chris!!
Your work is fabulous and heart felt.
You have definitely received the eye to capture the intimate beauty of life.
Keep going.
Sincerely, Terry Pappas

Jenny Vu said...

Yes, Chris really has a great eye for nature :)
And he is so friendly, I'm really glad I got the chance to interview him.

Tom Meade said...

Great work to the both of you. Jenny some good questions, and Chris with some good honest answers.
I was one of James Christopher's apartment mates in College,(CSU, Sacramento), where I remember Chris getting up before the crack of dawn to take pictures around the area, mainly down by the Americen River. I recall him gaving me a few tips with my camera. Thanks Chris and Jenny. I really enjoyed the read and photographs.
Tom "Dooley" Meade

Anonymous said...

Chris, you do such beautiful work!! Good job!!
Love you,
Aunt Terryann and Uncle Neil

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