Bird Photography Pro Interview: Kathy Adams Clark

Bird Photography Pro Interview: Kathy Adams Clark

Each month, we sit down with one of our favorite photographers for a snapshot interview of the person behind the lens. With Kathy Adams Clark, we weren’t getting to know a just a photographer, but a photographer, teacher, birding excursion tour guide and owner of a stock photography company, KAC Productions, representing roughly 15 photographers.

Kathy’s gorgeous photo of Texas bluebonnets (above) appeared in the November 2010 issue of Birds & Blooms Extra.

How did you come to be a nature photographer?

I wanted to be a nature photographer when I was a small child. I grew up on Elsa the Lion and other nature programs on television. I started taking photos when I was in elementary school. Yet I went to college, studied management and came out of college with a degree in human resources. During the 1980s, my photos were published in various magazines and used in advertising campaigns. In 1992, I talked with my husband about trying to make a living as a full-time nature photographer. He said I could do anything I wanted as long as I brought in the same income as I did in my corporate job. I started the company and left my career in human resources three years later. I’ve made my living since then through photography, marketing the work of other photographers through my stock agency, teaching photography and leading photo tours and workshops.

As someone who teaches photography, what would you say is the most important camera feature or piece of equipment?

The light meter in a camera is an amazing device. Without it, we’d all be limited in our ability to get a good exposure. I don’t see how photographers got a well-exposed image before the 1950s. It took a lot of skill. Students in my Basic Photography class learn about the three or four light meters in their digital camera and how to use it. I also like high-speed bursts to capture action shots. I love to hear the shutter go off in rapid succession like a machine gun. It’s exciting!

Through your company, KAC Productions, you host photo tours in locations around the world. If you had to pick just one place to photograph birds, where would you go?

If I had to pick one place to photograph birds it would be Costa Rica. Over many visits to Costa Rica with the same bird guide, I’ve developed a route loaded with bird photography opportunities. We visit hummingbird and fruit feeders, gardens, and natural areas. There are opportunities to photograph 15-20 species of hummingbirds at feeders and at flowers. Colorful tanagers visit fruit feeders. Toucans, motmots, and trogans are common in the forests. Along the coast we have an opportunity to photograph parrots, wading birds, magnificent frigatebirds, osprey, gulls and raptors. Costa Rica also has easy terrain and safe drinking water. Those things combined make it a bird photographer’s paradise.

What does photography give back to you?

There’s a real sense of accomplishment when I take a good photo. I get an incredible sense of pride. Then I love to show my images to others through programs, publications or teaching. I get a thrill out of teaching people about nature and showing them the beautiful creatures and sites on this earth. Sharing my images with others is a reward for all the hard work that goes into getting an image.

Do you have one solid piece of advice for aspiring photographers?

The best photos come from subject you know and love. Birds are easy for me to photograph because I’ve been a birdwatcher for thirty years. The same goes for butterflies and flowers.

Kathy Adams Clark
Visit Kathy’s website at to enjoy more of her photography, get information about upcoming photography classes and tours, or to pick up some brilliant photography tips from her blog.

Kirsten Schrader
Kirsten has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing birding and gardening content. As content director of Birds & Blooms, she leads the team of editors and freelance writers sharing tried-and-true advice for nature enthusiasts who love to garden and feed birds in their backyards. Since joining Birds & Blooms 17 years ago, Kirsten has held roles in digital and print, editing direct-to-consumer books, running as many as five magazines at a time, and managing special interest publications. Kirsten has traveled to see amazing North American birds and attended various festivals, including the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, the Rio Grande Bird Festival, The Biggest Week in American Birding Festival, and the Cape May Spring Festival. She has also witnessed the epic sandhill crane migration while on a photography workshop trip to Colorado. Kirsten has participated in several GardenComm and Outdoor Writers Association of America annual conferences and is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. When she's not researching, writing, and editing all things birding and gardening, Kirsten is enjoying the outdoors with her nature-loving family. She and her husband are slowly chipping away at making their small acreage the backyard of their dreams.