When Earl Nottingham, a former Chief Photographer of the Texas Park Wildlife Service, looks at a map of the state, he can see his office.
“I have a map of Texas on my wall, and every time I see it, I say,’It was my office,'” he said. “In the light of everything the agency did, I could see every corner of it.”
The journey became the story he wanted to tell.
“Over the years, some people said,’Well, you could probably write a book about what you saw’ … and when I started approaching retirement. I realized I could probably really do it, “he said. “That’s why I did it.”
The book Wild Focus: 25 Years of Texas Parks & Wildlife Photography, published by Texas A & M University Press, details a 25-year career at Nottingham’s state agency.
“The overall idea was to get an overview of everything Texas Parks and Wildlife does,” he said. “This includes the state park sector, the wildlife sector, the coastal and inland fisheries sector, and law enforcement agencies. Most people really don’t know because they have so much to do.”
After graduating from Temple High in 1972, Nottingham attended the Atlanta Museum of Art and East Texas State University, emphasizing that he often relies on cameras as a tool to tell the story of Texas Conservation.
“I had the image behind the mission stated by the agency,” he said. “It’s not just about taking beautiful pictures.”
He had that in mind when sifting his archive for hours.
“I started with about the hundreds of thousands of images needed to get rid of weeds … and break them down into something that is concise but covers all the bases,” Nottingham said. “But it was nice to go back and look back at all the situations and places I’ve been to in the state. Each time I go back and reflect, I’ll relive it for a few minutes.”
Nottingham emphasized that it is one of the best attributes of photography.
“You capture a moment of time and come back as soon as you see the image,” he said.
After completing a series of images, Nottingham finally arrived at three categories of his book: “Wild Places,” “Wild Things,” and “Faces.”
“These three broad categories summarize almost everything we did,” he said. “There are landscapes and wildlife, but then there are people who make the story interesting. This means biologists, landowners, game watchers, technicians, etc. Many to talk about Texas conservation. Because I need someone. “
That’s why Nottingham summarized the feedback in his book with the word “attractive.”
“Many people tell me that the pictures in a book aren’t just about looking at them easily,” he said. “They want to explore photography and tend to be drawn into the content of the photography.”
Nottingham, who has just begun to retire, is ready to keep an eye on the viewfinder.
“All the images I took are from the agency. They allowed me to use them in books, but now that I’m retired, I’m basically starting from scratch.” He said. “I’m still looking forward to what version 2.0 of Earl is because I have to go out and start shooting the whole range of new images myself.”
But Nottingham certainly knows one thing.
“I left the state a bit to shoot, but Texas is still calling me,” he said. “There are many situations I still have to see.”