Sunday, February 8, 2015

Two-Year Anniversary of Kansas Wildlife & Nature Photography Facebook Page

It all started with the Bug of the Day photos posted to his personal page. That's how the Kansas Wildlife and Nature Photography guy, Chris Harris, began. With bugs. Macro photography. Now, two years later, people have shared his pictures on Pinterest and purchased his photos on Fine Art America. To honor him and to give his fans a treat, I decided to interview him. He's my husband.

How did you first get into photography and later create the Kansas Wildlife and Nature Facebook page?

I started interacting with people about my pictures when I was into macro photography. Macro photography is extremely close-up photography of a small subject. I enjoy yard work and landscaping, so I planted items to attract butterflies and other insects. I posted the pictures of them to my personal Facebook page, which was a public page, and started labeling them as Bug of the Day. People reacted to the beauty, or creepiness of, jumping spiders, black widows, horse flies, praying mantis, dragon flies, and lady bug hatchings. Every once in awhile I'd throw in a snake or a bird picture. One person commented that she looked forward to seeing what I would post each evening with my Bug of the Day shots.

Then I starting taking photos of bald eagles and posted them to the Facebook pages of local new organizations. Mark Bogner, of our local NBC affiliate news station, was still a KSN weatherman then, and he shared some of my pictures to his page. A lot of people on there liked them. So I started my own photography page. I drove a few miles from my house and took pictures of sunsets and windmills. People seemed to like them a lot. Then I started driving around Kansas and added old buildings, old cars, abandoned places, or whatever else I came across.

What advice would you give to an aspiring photographer?

One: Admit you have a lot to learn.
Don't tell yourself you're good just because you took one good photo of something. I speak from experience here. At the beginning, I thought, hey these are pretty good. But then after 20,000 more photos, I realized some of mine weren't that great. I knew I needed to get better. I studied, so to speak, by looking at the pages of photographers that were really good. Since I was into bug photography at the beginning, I interacted on Facebook with other photographers, like Thomas Shahan and Francis Prior, who were doing macro shots. To check out their work work, click here and here.
the up-close beauty of a jumping spider

I also studied the reactions of the people through their likes and comments. I tried to figure out what made the picture outstanding. Based on the reactions I got, I knew if what I was doing was any good. Not many likes, then I knew people didn't like that kind of picture. If it received a lot of comments, then I knew the photo had evoked emotion in peoplelike the black and white shot of a swing set behind a church or the frozen dew on a tree branch. No likes or no reaction, then I knew the picture sucked.

St. Louis Parish at Waterloo, Kansas

Two: Invest in a good camera.
I use a Canon EOS6D and the L-series lenses. Take lots and lots and lots of photos. Carry your camera everywhere. Look for shots—opportunities that would be photogenic.

Three: Purchase photo-editing software.
I use Light Room and Photoshop Elements. I was frustrated with the directions for both at first. I grew tired of watching lengthy videos on how to do things, but eventually, I got the hang of it. Be persistent.

Once you started the page on Facebook, how did you know that the page would work?

I didn't. I just started posting pictures and watched the responses. For anyone trying this, you’ll know if your photos are any good if people comment or like them and interact with you on the page. Those early beginnings taught me what pictures people liked. Engaging with the people on the page is really important. People want conversation. I watched how Mark Bogner interacted with people on his page, and I learned a lot from that. I told him so in person when I met him at his book signing last spring.

Chris meets Mark Bogner, whose social media skills he emulated.

Which picture gained you the most likes to your page?

Storm shot south of Cheney.
It went viral on Channel 12's Facebook page. 

You take lots of pictures. I'm sure you a few favorites. What are they?

 Frosted Mini-Wheats

 Turkey Bail

What was the first picture you ever sold?

A sunset picture with a Valley Sprinklers irrigation system in it. A business contacted me and wanted to purchase it. They bought two. But the first picture anybody ever wanted was due to my wife having some of my pictures on her screen saver at work. Her colleague Sheila Wulf was impressed with a shot of some robin's eggs. She had it put on canvas.

The First Picture to Sell

The First Picture Someone Wanted Back in 2012

What are some things that people don't know about the Facebook page?
  • I considered changing its name.
  • I have no business card.
  • I have never paid Facebook to boost my post or purchased any advertising.
  • My only advertising is on the back window of my car.
  • I am the only photographer who posts on the page. I used to allow others to post, but the page grew in likes when that option was shut-off. I only received one complaint about the change.
  • I started the page on February 8, 2013. 

Chris' work at Cheney City Hall

  • My pictures have been on all three local news channels at one time or another.
  • KWCH Channel 12, our local CBS channel, has shared the photos on their news television broadcasts within the weather segment.
  • The city of Cheney, where I live, purchased 10 pictures to put up in City Hall.
  • Two different small colleges have asked me to do an art show. My wife begged me to do it and said she would help, but I declined. Just not my thing.
  • A couple teachers around Kansas asked me to come talk about photography to kids. Again, I declined to the disappointment of my wife, who ironically is a public speaking instructor. Just not my thing.

sunsets and windmills: the most popular subjects on the page

What would you like to say directly to your fans?

I appreciate the suggestions that people give me of places to check out. Since I'm not a native Kansan, I'm an Okie, and neither is my wife, she's from South Dakota, it helps in planning my road trips. 

I enjoy interacting with you on my page. I really do. Your clicking like lets me know if I'm doing a good job or not—otherwise I don't know.

The other day, I followed the links after someone had shared a picture. I can't always follow where they've shared it because people have closed personal pages, but I got to see the end of this one. It said something like "...and the photographer, he'll even talk to you if you comment." That made my day. 

Kingman Bluffs

If you're a fan, what's one of your favorite pictures? Also, how did you end up finding the page on Facebook? If you're a reader of this blog, and don't now about the FB page or have never even clicked like on it, click here. To search the photos Chris has for sale, click here.

If you see this car, that's him!
picture taken outside Souders Museum near Cheney, Kansas


  1. I grew up in Kansas but have lived in Colorado since 1988. I don't know how I stumbled on your husband's Facebook page but I'm glad I did. His photos remind me why I think Kansas is beautiful.

    1. Where about did you grow up? I've lived in south central Kansas for 26 years after attending college in Hillsboro. Seems I moved in right around the time you moved out. Thanks for commenting, Cathy, and I'm glad you get a taste of home from Chris' pictures!

  2. Congratulations Son!!! I'm so very proud of you and Melodie!!! Love all of your writings Melodie.