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Interview with Nature Photographer Jeffrey Kauffman

door | jun 1, 2024 | Blog, They let Nature Talk

Picture title: Shaking Off The Cold © Jeffrey Kauffman | NPOTY 2023 Runner-up | Category Mammals

Behind the Lens: Jeffrey Kauffman

…What inspires you to photograph? Are there specific themes, locations, or people that particularly intrigue you?
“About six or seven years ago, I began photographing American Bald Eagles near my home in Maryland, and that’s when my passion for photography took off. At the time, I didn’t know much about photography, but my curiosity drove me to learn more….

Name: Jeffrey Kauffman
Age: 55
Occupation: Fulltime commercial refrigeration technician
Current residence: Lancaster, Pennsylvania USA
Social media: FacebookInstagram

Jeffrey Kauffman

Behind the Lens: Jeffrey Kauffman

What inspires you to photograph? Are there specific themes, locations, or people that particularly intrigue you?
“About six or seven years ago, I began photographing American Bald Eagles near my home in Maryland, and that’s when my passion for photography took off. At the time, I didn’t know much about photography, but my curiosity drove me to learn more.

Over the years, I gradually invested in various types of photography equipment. Many photographers frequented the same eagle spot, and they served as inspiration for me. Conversations with them and their guidance motivated and educated me. However, the diversity of advice sometimes left me feeling overwhelmed. After all, not everyone had the same approach to photography.

Amerikaanse Zeearend © Jeffrey Kauffman - Making A Splash

“Making A Splash” © Jeffrey Kauffman

I found a photographer I could relate to: Tin Man Lee. His courses significantly advanced my photography. He inspired me to define my personal goals. Learning to create beautiful photos like his was incredibly helpful and inspiring. It ignited a desire within me to travel more. However, before big trips to places like the Arctic, Alaska, and Africa, I wanted to get more familiar with my camera. I didn’t want to miss any opportunities while out in vast landscapes.”
© Jeffrey Kauffman - Roodstaartbuizerd met gevangen muis in het droge gras

“Red-tailed Hawk” © Jeffrey Kauffman

How did you come to know about NPOTY and/or Nature Talks?
“When I was taking courses, Tin Man Lee recommended a list of organizations to explore, and NPOTY was one of them. Last year, I attended the Nature Talks Festival, and I was truly impressed by their mission and values. It was also the first time I had the chance to meet Tin Man Lee in person, which was a fantastic experience.”

Why did you think your submitted photo could be the contender for NPOTY? Can you tell us the story behind your submitted photo? What makes this photo special to you?
“After every trip, I review my photos and select my favorites. Among them, there’s one that stands out as my all-time personal favorite. It captures a unique moment, one that I’ve never encountered before. Everything aligned perfectly: the experience, the setting, and the camera equipment.

Last year in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, during my first polar bear photography trip, a sudden blizzard trapped us, canceling all flights home. Just when worry crept in, our guides spotted a bear along the Hudson Bay coast. The urgency to catch a glimpse of the majestic creature overshadowed any concern about our delayed departure.

©Jeffrey Kauffman - IJsbeer in de sneeuw

“Polar Bear” © Jeffrey Kauffman

In the midst of this blizzard, we approached a polar bear resting in the snow, nestled against a sand dune blanketed in white. Stepping out into the biting wind, we aimed our cameras, but the gusts were relentless, making it impossible to steady our shots. Desperate for stability, I pressed my body and camera against the truck, using its frame as a makeshift tripod. Every few minutes, the bear would move, causing snow to cascade off its fur in a dazzling display. I experimented with shutter speeds to capture the scene’s energy, using a slow setting to blur the snowflakes and create a captivating backdrop”

Could you share some of your other favorite photos with us that you are proud of? Or a specific moment when a photo evoked a powerful emotion in you while taking it?
“One of the most captivating wildlife experiences I’ve had was observing and photographing a family of Northern Flickers that decided to nest right next to our home during the COVID lockdown. From the moment they began constructing their nest in a nearby tree, to witnessing their mating rituals, the hatching of their chicks, and finally their fledging. It was a remarkable journey that unfolded over several months. Over four to five months, I documented their journey, which kept us captivated and almost made us forget about TV!

©Jeffrey Kauffman - Noordelijke bonte specht vliegend naar zijn nest in de boom

“Northern Flicker” © Jeffrey Kauffman

But things took a sad turn when two Red-tailed Hawks decided to set up their nest nearby. One day, tragedy struck when one of the hawks got the male Northern Flicker. It was heartbreaking. But you know what? The female Flicker didn’t give up. She kept tending to the nest, even without her partner. Usually, Flickers work together, taking turns with the chores. But with her mate gone, other birds like bluebirds and robins chipped in to help her out. It was quite a journey to witness, bittersweet yet fascinating.”
©Jeffrey Kauffman - Gevecht tussen noordelijke bonte specht en spreeuw bij het nest in boom

“Battle of Evermore” © Jeffrey Kauffman

©Jeffrey Kauffman - Vliegende Noordelijke bonte specht met zwart hartvorm op zijn borst

“Northern Flicker” ©Jeffrey Kauffman

How would you describe your photographic style? Are there certain techniques or approaches that are characteristic of your work?
“Crafting my own style has been a gradual process. With each passing year, I find myself improving organically. In wildlife photography, adaptability is crucial. I’ve abandoned the tripod in favor of more agile techniques, like using my toe as a makeshift stabilizer to capture shots at creek level. It took some time to get the hang of it, but now it’s become an integral part of my unique approach.”

What challenges do you (often) encounter while photographing and how do you deal with them?
“Beforehand, I prepare for potential challenges, including mastering photography in various weather conditions. I practice different camera settings at home and study photographers’ techniques on YouTube to minimize surprises. On location, I envision scenes and anticipate the best angles for captivating shots. Though the anticipated action doesn’t materialize most of the times, I remain hopeful for that perfect shot I’ve envisioned.”

©Jeffrey Kauffman - Tundrazwaan met gespreide vleugels in water met mist

“Tundra Swan” © Jeffrey Kauffman

How important is post-processing for your work? Can you tell us about your image editing and retouching process?
“I’m all about keeping it real in post-processing. In Capture One, I take a less-is-more approach, steering clear of fancy filters and letting my manual photography skills shine through. Sure, I’ll tweak things a bit internally to enhance the image, but I’m selective about it. After all, a little patience goes a long way. I like to let the photo marinate for a bit before giving it the final polish, sometimes letting it simmer for a couple of weeks until it’s just right. It’s like cooking up the perfect shot, with a dash of patience and a sprinkle of perfectionism!”
©Jeffrey Kauffman - Aalscholver met vis in zijn bek low-key

“Cormorant with fish” © Jeffrey Kauffman

Are there specific projects or collaborations that you are particularly proud of? What made these experiences so memorable?
“My encounters with the Northern Flickers stand out as my most memorable wildlife experiences. I captured some truly unique images during that time. In fact, a few of them even won awards and were featured in various bird magazines. One even made it into the prestigious Bird Photographer of the Year book. Fun fact: Some folks weren’t fans of the wing’s curve effect, but hey, I’m happy with it. I hold a special attachment to this particular image, and the technique I used to achieve it will remain my little secret!”
©Jeffrey Kauffman - Noordelijke bonte specht vliegt weg van zijn nest

“Northern Flickers” © Jeffrey Kauffman

Do you engage in photography full-time, or do you have other activities from which you derive your daily income?
“I don’t make a dime from photography. Instead, I donate my winnings to causes like national wildlife federations or let them use my photos for Christmas cards. Sure, earning some income from my photos would be great, but I know it’s tough as well. In the future, I might dip my toes into organizing one tour a year, or taking a small group out for some photo adventures or workshops. That’s a whole new ball game though, full-on business mode, complete with risks and a ton of work. With my business background, I know exactly what it would take. Plus, my second place in NPOTY might just give me that extra bit of fame!”
©Jeffrey Kauffman - Bultruggen in het water

“Humpback Whales” © Jeffrey Kauffman

How do you stay inspired and continue to develop yourself as a photographer? Are there sources or activities that you regularly use to remain creative?
“What I never saw coming were the comments from people telling me how much my photos help them in their lives. I’ve heard from folks who are sick, depressed, or going through tough times. One guy with cancer even told me my photos helped him get through his rough days. I never imagined my work would have that kind of impact. Donating my winnings to conservation projects and letting my photos be used for good causes is heartwarming, especially knowing it brings so much positivity to others. That’s what keeps me going.”
©Jeffrey Kauffman - Eland mannetje in tegenlicht met groot gewei low-key

“Bull Elk” © Jeffrey Kauffman

What equipment do you enjoy using and why? Do you have a preference for certain lenses, cameras, or accessories?
Jokingly, Jeffrey said: “Should we really focus on our differences? Some folks might get a bit upset if I reveal my brand loyalty to Sony!” I immediately suggested ending the interview right there when I found out he’s a Sony enthusiast, being a Nikon fan myself…

“When it comes to lenses, the 600mm is my go-to for wildlife photography, it’s my absolute favorite. I don’t bother with filters; they’re just not my thing. Landscape photography doesn’t really appeal to me. It’s the animals that intrigue me and inspire me to take photos.”

©Jeffrey Kauffman - IJsbeer achter groene rots in het water

“Spirit Bear” © Jeffrey Kauffman

If you could give one tip to another photographer, what would that tip be?
“Practice, practice, practice. There’s so much to photography, the technical stuff, and so much more to learn. When I was growing up, I played guitar, and it’s the same thing: you never reach a point where you know it all.”
©Jeffrey Kauffman - Coyote loopt in de sneeuw

“Coyote” © Jeffrey Kauffman

©Jeffrey Kauffman - Poolhaas wit in sneeuw

“Arctic Hare” © Jeffrey Kauffman

Audrey van der Hoorn

Hi there! I'm Audrey van der Hoorn, a 47-year-old from The Hague. Photography lets me explore the world from my own unique perspective, capturing vibrant and authentic images, whether it’s portraits, landscapes, or wildlife. I love preserving these precious memories in all their forms. As a volunteer photographer for Make-A-Wish Netherlands, I get the privilege of documenting some of life’s most beautiful moments, like the Wish Journey of a seriously ill child. It's an incredible opportunity to celebrate life and cherish its fragility. Lately, I’ve been helping out the Nature Talks Foundation with various communication tasks. It’s a joy to support their mission of promoting nature awareness, appreciation, and conservation. I'm thrilled to conduct interviews with the talented winners of the international nature photography competition (NPOTY) and captivating photo blogs. Join me on this adventure as we explore the beauty of our natural world through the lenses of these incredible artists!

nature photographer of the year

NPOTY 2025 is opening on December 20th








Conservation project

At Nature Photographer of the Year competition we like to do things different. So therefore we share a percentage of the entry fees and contest profits to nature conservation projects throughout the world. So next to the chance of winning great prizes you also support nature conservation!


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