Each week, we bring you the backstory of work featured in our collection, written by a member of our curatorial team.
Scott Dere, "Winter Magic", 2012
by Haley Temin, Associate Curator
I had the great pleasure of meeting the photographer Scott Dere at the PhotoPlus Expo last month, after he purchased a Meural Canvas to display his own stunning nature and wildlife photography. As we walked around the exhibition, Scott and I got to talking about his craft and his career and not only did he open my eyes to an array of techniques—I can now sound halfway literate on the subjects of composition, depth of field and zoom capabilities—but he also told me about his journey to becoming a photographer and some of the amazing stories behind his shots.
Photography has been a part of Scott’s life since the age of 5, when his father handed him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie. Eight years later, a 13-year-old Dere landed a job at the Temple across the street where his father often worked. It was here that he met an events photographer who would give him his first job. For the next 17 years, he developed his photographic skills as an event photographer, and also obtained a Fine Art of Photography degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Scott Dere, "Living on the Edge", 2014
Today, Scott is still very much involved with events and corporate photography through his Long Island based studio, Art Photographers, but this business allows him pursue his passion for wildlife photography. And to be clear, it’s an expensive passion—specialized equipment, travel to exotic locations and countless hours in the field.
Scott Dere, "The Trees Have Eyes", 2016
After seeing his images of mountain lions, bison and brown bears (to name a few of the animals he’s gotten up close and personal with) my most immediate question for Scott was, “How on earth do you get so close to these wild animals?” He explained, simply, that it is all about understanding the environment you’re in, as well as the behaviors of the animals you are photographing, and it’s not only about where you’re angling and placing the camera but anticipating what the animal will do next. While he has had some nerve wracking experiences—you know, just a bear playing with his camera—his study of animals has allowed him to powerfully portray them in their natural elements: “To be able to make a statement and produce images that give my viewers and audiences a sense of adventure and awe, I have discovered new techniques to aid in producing the sharpest images possible while shooting in the field. Coupled with dedicating a heavy amount of time photographing in harsh weather and exclusive areas of the planet, I have chased the elements of nature—they play a predominant role in my images to achieve a sense of humility and empathy for the wildlife I capture in their natural environments. It’s an attempt to put my viewers in a place where there is a realization of the hardships the natural world puts on creatures of our planet, in a desperate hope that we, as people do not compound the problem and find ways to coexist with the natural world.”
Scott Dere, "Freedom"
When asked for his favorite photograph he’s taken:
“Freedom is a photograph of a Bald Eagle in flight which I truly love. In this image the Eagle is fearless, majestic and beautiful all at once while gracefully heading directly at me. For me it’s an iconic capture as the Bald Eagle stands for freedom, justice, and strength, and she radiates all of these feelings as she stares me down through the lens. I remember that the sun was low in the sky behind the mountains, which put me and the landscape in the shadows. I was putting my camera away already when all of a sudden I spotted her flying in the sun and on approach. I pulled my gear back out and placed the lens on a friend's shoulder to keep steady as there was no time to set up a tripod and was lucky enough to get this one frame before she turned off. This encounter taught me the valuable lesson to never put my camera away until there was absolutely no light left to photograph in.”