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Meet Michael Corlew, An Award Winning Wildlife Photographer From Folsom

Award-winning photographer Michael Corlew—who’s particularly drawn to capturing wildlife—currently displays his work at Anita Rochelle Boutique & Fine Art in Folsom and has shown at numerous other locales too, including Blue Line Arts, Sutter Street Artist Gallery, and Sacramento Fine Arts Center. Although Corlew has traveled and taken pictures across the globe, he still loves shooting local scenes at the American River, Folsom Lake, Cosumnes River Preserve, and Lake Natoma. The artist’s top tips for other aspiring nature photographers? “You need to respect wild creatures and be able to [move] your equipment settings quickly, as wildlife doesn’t take directions or stay still...Remember to look around from time to time, as the best image might be beside or behind you. This is a time to commune with nature and enjoy the surroundings.”

HLB: You’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, but what inspired you to pursue your passion? 

MC: I started taking photos while still in grade school. In the mid-’70s, I got involved in hot air ballooning, which provided me with [an abundance of] opportunities to take photos. A number of my images were used in ballooning calendars and advertisements. After retiring, I knew I would need something to do, so I took classes in photography, Photoshop processing, and printing at Folsom Lake College, followed by a number of workshops on wildlife photography and camera-specific training. I currently use digital camera equipment, computer-aided processing, and wide-format inkjet printers.

Michael Corlew

HLB: You mostly photograph wildlife with landscapes sprinkled in. What fascinates you about these subjects? 

MC: I’m drawn to reflections and the beauty of both wildlife and scenery. With reflections, you may have a smooth or rough surface that’s reflecting and, depending on the lighting, might get reflected color from the sky. On some recent trips to visit every single capitol building in the lower 48 states, I started taking photos of stairways and realized curves and sharp angles are also interesting to me. 

HLB: What advice do you have for beginners looking to turn their hobby into a career? 

MC: Take classes at a local college or online and research the type of photography you’re interested in. Go to art fairs, talk to the photographers, and ask [questions]. If you want to take pictures of people, contact local studios and speak with the photographer. Put together a portfolio of your best work and ask others to critique it. Contact other like-minded photographers who are successful and ask to [shadow] them.

HLB: What do you hope to convey through your images?

MC: The beauty in nature’s animals, birds, and our surroundings. 

By Heather L. Becker

Michael Corlew Photo by Dante Fontana

All other photos by Michael Corlew