Chris Byrne – Portrait of a Photographer

by Ann de Bruyn

Chrisbyrnephotography.1 One of the universal truths about nature photography I’ve come to find through getting to know photographers both in these articles and on my podcast is that at the core of every photographer with superb images is a value-driven motivation. Of course, these values vary widely between every photographer, ranging from a love of natural history, the desire to express challenging emotions or process grief, etc.; however, in the case of Chris Byrne, this value is what he refers to as “the payoff.” While at first glance this choice of words may seem transactional, upon further examination of both Chris as a person and his photographs, one can begin to understand and appreciate them more fully. Chris worked in the stock market for seventeen years and found the life being sucked out of him day by day. There was one glimmer of hope though – he loved being outside with a camera as it brought him peace and joy as well as a much-needed distraction from the busy fast-paced life in the stock market. Through the lens of a stock market worker, Chris began to see his life, and later photography, as an analysis of risk versus reward, with the result being “the payoff” when that calculation was done correctly and with a little bit of luck. As someone who has also spent countless time pursuing big scenes in the mountains with a great deal of personal risk involved, I appreciate Chris’ perspective on nature photography as I believe it provides an interesting framework to operate within.

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