Meet the Photographer: Derek Drudge

Backyard Habitat, First Place, Amateur

02-08-2012 // Laura Tangley
Derek Drudge, First Place Winner 2011 National Wildlife Photo Contest

Derek Drudge calls himself "a serious amateur photographer who enjoys shooting many different subjects, from pets to wild animals to landscapes to models. I try to find beauty in everything I see and capture that beauty through the lens of my camera." Since he was a child growing up in the early 1970s, Drudge has had a passion both for animals and photography. His aunt bought him his first camera—a Kodak Brownie Fiesta (circa 1962)—at a flea market when he was 8 years old. "I love photographing many different subjects, but nature and wildlife are my favorites," says Drudge. "I enjoy sitting quietly and observing animals in their natural environment and seeing how they interact with each other. I also like to share the images I capture with others to make them aware of the beauty that can be found all around us if only we open our eyes." To learn more about Drudge and see more of his photographs, visit

NWF: Why did you enter NWF’s Photo Contest?

DD: Many people who saw the images I have captured told me I should enter them in a photography contest. I chose NWF’s contest because of the organization’s reputation and its mission to conserve nature.

NWF: Can you describe briefly the circumstances behind the making of your contest-winning photograph?

2011 National Wildife Photo Contest Winner

DD: A couple months before capturing this image, I had just purchased my first digital single-lens-reflex camera. On a visit to Ocala, Florida, I went to my sister's house for a family gathering. While sitting on her patio, I noticed two tiny birds flying back and forth from the yard to an ornamental metal fish hanging from the ceiling of the covered patio. When I mentioned my observation, my sister told me there was a pair of little birds that had built their nest inside the hollow fish and had babies.

I got my camera and positioned myself so that I could observe the action without disturbing the birds. The two parents, which I learned later were Carolina wrens, took turns flying back and forth continuously for hours. I shot quite a few images, but this was the best of the lot, catching all three with their beaks open, their eyes visible, and mom or dad with the next meal.

NWF: Do you think that photography can promote wildlife conservation? If so, how?

Juvenile bald eagle by Derek Drudge

DD: I believe that photography can help promote wildlife conservation by introducing others to the beauty of the animals in the environment around them. Many people I meet are unaware that bald eagles, otters, owls and bobcats call the wooded areas around their neighborhoods home. Sharing my images with students at the school where I work as a resource officer has opened their eyes to the fact that we share our neighborhoods with many animals that depend on us to do the right thing.

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