Laurie takes her best shot
Laurie Zuill always tries to bring a unique perspective to her photography.
Longtails are her favourite subjects. To get the perfect shot, she’s not afraid to hang over a cliff or claw her way up a rocky hillside.
“I would never jeopardise my life but yeah, sometimes I take a few risks,” the 57-year-old said.
As “an experiment” she put 12 of her photographs together and had Bermuda Blueprint make up 100 calendars for 2022. To her delight, they sold out; she is now taking orders for next year.
Out shooting at Chaplin Bay last week she was surprised by a longtail.
“I was just putting my gear away when I saw this flash of white. I just started snapping.”
The result was not her best work, but she was still excited.
“It is really early for them to appear,” she said. “They usually aren’t here for another month.”
Sometimes people see her photos of longtails and think she has disturbed them.
Although she does try to get close, a zoom lens helps. “People have the wrong impression,” she said. “You can stand in the middle of Horseshoe Bay and they think you are coming near their nest.”
Ms Zuill only got interested in Bermuda wildlife with the arrival of the pandemic. For 22 years she worked at Woodlands Garage and taught taekwondo on the side.
The garage closed in January 2020 and two months later the pandemic hit. Suddenly, she had a lot more time on her hands.
“I was bored,” Ms Zuill said. “I have never been one to watch television or movies or read books. I like to be outdoors.”
She started taking long walks. Along the Bailey’s Bay Railway Trail she began noticing everything around her – birds, fish, plants, the ocean – and snapped pictures of it with her phone.
She posted some of her work to the Facebook group 441 Photo Bermuda, and had a lot of positive feedback.
Encouraged she bought a Canon camera and upgraded her iPhone 7 Plus to an iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Photography has really helped her appreciate Bermuda’s beauty.
“The only beach I ever went to was Horseshoe Bay,” she said. “Through this I have explored many other beaches in Bermuda.”
In May 2020 she started a Facebook group, Bermuda’s Best Shots, so she could be a little more artsy than other photography groups allowed. She now has more than 1,700 subscribers.
“I am very precise about stuff,” she said. “I like more photography-style stuff like filtering and how things look. I don’t want electrical wires in my photographs.”
On average Ms Zuill spends about four hours a day taking pictures while walking along railway trails, on beaches and through parks.
“I am entirely self-taught. When I first started I thought ‘Wow, this is good, people are liking this.’ Now I look back a year later and say these are crap.”
She loves processing her photographs on Snapseed, a Google Play app, almost as much as she loves taking them.
In addition to nature, she also likes taking forced perspectives, photos which rely on positioning and angle to create an illusion. By placing her arm in a certain place, for example, she can look like she is leaning on a building or picking up a rock in the ocean.
“They are not your average shots,” she said.
Figuring out the business end of photography has been challenging.
“Last year I put my work into a little book that was 8in by 8in,” she said. “I brought in 15 of them from the website Shutterfly. I would have had to charge $40 to break even and I only sold them for $20. I only did it as an experiment. To be honest, I am just happy taking pictures and posting them on 441 Photo Bermuda and Bermuda’s Best Shots.”
Art galleries have invited her to display her work but Ms Zuill hasn’t yet felt confident enough. Despite that she offers 11in by 10in prints of her pictures for $90 on request.
“People just have to contact me if they see a photo they like,” she said.
Follow Bermuda’s Best Shots on Facebook or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org