Thursday, January 21, 2016



Now, Laurie and I have a unique acquaintance.  The other photographers I have highlighted so far have been from across the sea, and they have become great friends of mine, met through Facebook, and I was so impressed by their photography, I felt compelled to highlight their work.  But, now Laurie and I go back to our earlier years in Photography.  I have mentioned in my blogs that I have worked in a photo retail store for almost 20 years in the area that I reside now.  Laurie also worked for the same company, although we never worked in the same store, I knew her, her father really well, and knew that everyone was very impressed with her work ethic, her great photography skills, and every time I would meet her through various work outings, we would say hello, and I got to know her pretty good.  As time went on, the company was sold, and we all went our various ways.  I found Laurie again on Facebook, and found out that she was living every Photographers dream.  She had moved to one of the most beautiful parts of the United States, learned how to take great scenery shots, good enough to sell her photos, and had the freedom to be a photographic guide to some of the most beautiful places in the world.   She has learned the art of taking great wildlife photos, been able to sell some of those, and has established some great ability to just go out, and professionally take pictures, and sell her photos to the world.  How well does she know photography?  Well, she has written books as well on photography, and they are among the best sellers on

So, with that in mind, I consider this particular photographer today, to be one of the most influential photographers of our time, who lives the dream, who is well respected in the photography world, and to be able to get some time from her to tell us about her life in Photography, I think, is a dream for all of us.  And to be able to post some of her photos for the world to see, is also a great dream for us as well.  So, let's get started learning about how Laurie Excell became the perfect photographer she is today: 

My love affair with photography began at the age of ten when my father handed me an old, beat up Pentax Spotmatic camera to occupy my attention and keep me out of trouble at a camera club outing in Southern Utah.  I looked at this thing in my hands and wondered what to do with this hunk of metal that you look through, turn a ring to focus, a dial here a button there and you had a “correct” exposure, click and the image was burned into a piece of celluloid that you took to a lab for processing into slides that could then be projected onto the wall for all to enjoy.

My first images were horrible but I didn’t know that, not yet.  All I knew was that I had faced the photography beast and come out successful on the other side with images to show for my efforts.  It was like magic…aim, point and shoot and voila, photographs.  I was hooked!  From that moment on, if you saw me, you likely saw a camera around my neck.  My camera and I were inseparable.  It was like having the key to the magic kingdom.  My camera opened doors that a shy, young girl would have been far too nervous to even attempt on her own but, with camera in hand, I strode confidently into any and all events and made images that would be used in the high school yearbook where I became the photo editor.

A Note from me:
Laurie has mastered light and how to use it correctly in pictures.  If you go to her website:, you will even notice, besides writing books that she does personal instruction and teaching classes on various subjects.  She knows her photography really well.  So, if you want to see a master teach you the art of photography, then Laurie is one that could do that for you.  So, take a look at Laurie's website and see the amount of creative things she does to earn money, and to just have fun doing photography.  

She also does "Photo Adventures".  Wouldn't that be great to bring along a professional Photographer on one of your photographic expeditions, or join her in some of her own adventures.  Listed are:  Yellowstone National Park, The coastal brown bears, Storm chasing in tornado alley,  Cuba, Kenya, and the list goes on.  So, there is so much you can learn from participating in a "Photo Adventure".  I think I will join her some day.

I was so hooked on photography that I jumped at a chance to work a part time summer job at the camera store where my dad worked.  Talk about a photographic high; I would go to work each day and be surrounded by cameras, lenses, accessories, film and, envelopes filled with images that our customers had brought in for processing.

In addition to working in camera stores, I fueled my passion for photography by joining the camera club that my parents belonged to and it wasn’t long before I was taking home awards almost every month.  It was truly a moment of great satisfaction when I won the year-end top award for my division at the ripe age of eighteen.  That same year my mom won first in her division and my dad won photographer of the year.  Those Excell’s were taking the local photographic community by storm.

Note from me:  I hope one thing you will notice from the pictures displayed from Laurie is that she is so diverse in her photography.  You give her a subject to talk about, and she could teach you anything about it.  Look at how incredible each of these photos are.  The lighting, the composition are all just great:

From Laurie:
For the next twenty-five years I worked in retails camera sales both in Utah and later in Oregon where I moved in 1991.  It was while working in a camera store in Portland that I met wildlife photographer Moose Peterson who was in town to give a workshop for the store I worked at.  I could say “the rest is history” as it is but, for anyone interested in the rest of the store, here’s the longer version…

After presenting in Portland, Moose began sending his clients to me to make their photographic purchases.  He knew that I didn’t see these people as simply sales but as new friends who I was helping to problem solve so that they would have the best equipment for their photographic needs.  Plus, I was able to live vicariously through their many adventures to far off, exotic places that I dreamed of visiting myself.

Note from me:
Just looking on her website ( she lists the equipment she uses for her photography.  Now, not all of us can do this, but, wouldn't it be a dream to have this kind of equipment:
*  3 camera bodies
*  16 lenses  (ranging from: 16mm fisheye lens to a 600mm f4 lens). Go to her website and dream about the kind of equipment she has as part of her equipment list.   Ahhhhhh

Continuing from Laurie:
My desire to take my photography to the next level  bubbled to the surface and I began to dream of becoming a professional photographer, exploring the planet with camera in hand and then sharing my images with the world.  It wasn’t long before these dreams turned into reality with an offer of a job as Moose’s assistant on his wildlife safaris.  It took me long enough to get a yes out to accept.

Thus began our decade plus mentor/mentee, big brother/little sister, friend/friend relationship that held up through many months of traveling together to some remote locations in all kinds of weather conditions with all sorts of interesting people.  What a great gift to be able to learn my craft at the feet of one of the most respected wildlife photographers and digital pioneers of the time.

I soaked up as much as I could about wildlife behavior and photographic techniques to be able to capture what I was seeing through my viewfinder.  Eventually, I was promoted to instructor at our DLWS events, which I continued for many years.  I finally decided the time was right for me to move on and do my own workshops and events.

Over the years I have won several awards for photographic excellence.  I have taught at Photoshop World many times, been a guest speaker at camera club events and enjoy working one on one with personal instruction geared to help my clients take their photography to the next level by improving their photographic and post processing skills.

I also lead Photographic Adventures throughout North America and beyond taking small, intimate groups to some of my favorite photographic locations such as Alaska to photograph coastal brown bears, Yellowstone in winter, and storm chasing in Tornado Alley to name a few.  And, I have written two books on photography: Composition From Great Shots to Snapshots co-written with some outstanding photographers (in it’s second edition) and Wildlife Photography From Snapshots to Great Shots.

Note from me:  Her photos have been in "Photos of the Week" at least 3 times since it's inception.  No photographer has done that yet in "Photos of the Week".  Her photos continue to  astound me, not because I know her, but, because of her incredible, great photos.  I hope you get a chance, to maybe go back through all the "Photos of the Week" and see what great work she has done to qualify for that.

From Laurie:

While I still love having a camera in hand to the exclusion of nearly all other activities, I have found incredible rewards in sharing my passion, my knowledge and my skills with others to help make them better photographic communicators.  I love seeing the light bulb go off when they finally get a difficult concept or the pure joy at capturing that defining moment in a way that communicates what they were seeing and feeling when they clicked the shutter.

I hope you enjoy my images and stories.  If you like my images they are for sale (shameless plug) and if any of my upcoming Adventures appeal to you I would love to share my passion, knowledge and skills with you too.

facebook: Laurie Excell

 A sincere Thank You to Laurie for her insight into her life, and how she became such a great photographer.  She has truly inspired me to keep working harder.  

It made me want to spend some time with her in some photographic expeditions.  Laurie, count on me in the future to contact you about some time.  It would only be fun.

And once again, her books are for sale on her website, or on  They are great books.  I know some photographers who have bought them, and said they should be with every photographer who wants to be serious about learning photography.  

And also, the camera equipment alone is a dream.  I think it would be fun to know just how many of those lenses you take on an expedition.  So, keep taking pictures.

I know one thing Laurie has done recently is to take pictures with her I-phone.  We should take into consideration the power we have with our standard cell phones.  I think I will do a special edition one time of cell phone photos only.  Could be real entertaining.

Once again, Thanks Laurie.  And here is just a couple more of Laurie's great photos:

All photo credits:  Laurie Excell


Next Friday:  Special Edition:  PART 2, THE ART OF BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY.  When I posted the original ART OF BLACK AND WHITE,  it turned out to be one of the more popular posts I have ever done, so, look for Part 2 of Black and White Photos. 


If you are interested in participating in being highlighted in the Special Edition of my blog, please contact me at:

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