The Hunter – A Conceptual Outdoors Photo Series

As I mentioned last week,  I am taking some time to look back and go through work from the past year or so and will be sharing a lot of work that I have never taken the time to do a lot with. As such, I bring to you this short series I call The Hunter.

This is a short series I created last year for a Project 52 I was working on in which one of the assignments was to tell a story without showing a face. If you’ve been following my Journal for a while, you’ll know that I’ve shared these images here before. But as a jumping off point I wanted to share them again because they brought up another thought about Instagram(I know, I know….I swear this isn’t an anti-Instagram Journal!) that I’ll talk about briefly later.

I created this series with a few simple props and attempted to tell a story of a hunter out in the nasty cold and snowy northern Minnesota weather as he tracks, successfully, that beautiful buck. Of course, I made these photographs well after deer season and had to improvise a bit.

I never was quite happy with the way these images were processed, something just felt a little off, but I do like how the falling snow was accentuated and the orange of the hunting camo really gave a nice contrast to the fading blue tones of the coming nightfall.

I tried to emulate the popular gritty style seen in many hunting magazines, so used off camera flash to allow me to “dim” the ambient light which accentuated the blue tones. The off camera lighting also allowed me to create some edgy rim lighting and really made the Browning Firearms hunting rifle look amazing. So far pretty standard stuff.

I convinced my Dad to be my model for this shoot, so we trudged out in the snow at the edge of his yard with him dressed in warm weather hunting gear and his gun. Because I wanted to tell the story of a hunter out sneaking up on and finally harvesting a nice buck I needed something to be able to show as his deer in the final photos.

Thankfully, or unfortunately from the deer’s perspective, we had been out hiking in the woods a few weeks earlier and had found a real nice buck that had died. The cause of death was unknown, but all that was left was part of the skull including the antlers and a few leg bones. I figured we could use that as the “trophy” in this story, but I had to be real creative with how to show the buck since there was no body to show. That’s why you see him dragging the deer by the horns only, but never see the head actually. Camera angles are a great thing to use to your advantage sometimes. Here’s what I came up with.


The deceased Whitetail Deer I found in the woods that was used as the deer in my series.

It was a fun series and it made me think that about how we are always told to really stay specific to a theme with our Instagram feeds. I’ve always kept mine pretty strictly just landscapes and nature type of photography, which I love and do a lot of. However I shoot a lot more than just that and part of my 2018 thinking as I go through so much of this work is that I really want to start sharing and shooting more of a variety of work. Which means sharing that work here on the Journal as well as on Instagram, etc.

But it’s going to be a long road I think. I shared the 3 images in that series on my Instagram over the last week and let’s just say that the performance of those posts have not been close to what I get when I post a beautiful sunset landscape. Not that I have a huge response even then because my following is fairly small (feel free to follow me on Instagram if you like, I’m @dave.szweduik , the more the merrier!), but it was a pretty stark difference because i think my audience there didn’t like the fact it wasn’t my usual imagery.

It’s an interesting trend to watch, but I plan to share more portrait type of work there with my normal nature stuff, so stay tuned!


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