Gulledge’s Photography Grows Into More Than A Hobby

Tucked quietly inside a camouflage blind with only a small hole for his
camera lens, Steve Gulledge waits patiently for the first sight of
wildlife, looking for that perfect shot. More times than not, he gets
it. Gulledge, a lifelong outdoorsman and photography hobbyist, has
combined the two to establish himself among the best in the competitive
world of wildlife photography. His photos have appeared in countless
magazines, often gracing the cover and even on television.


steve_gulledgeart.jpgBy JOEL McNEECE
Tucked quietly inside a camouflage blind with only a small hole for his camera lens, Steve Gulledge waits patiently for the first sight of wildlife, looking for that perfect shot. More times than not, he gets it.
Gulledge, a lifelong outdoorsman and photography hobbyist, has combined the two to establish himself among the best in the competitive world of wildlife photography. His photos have appeared in countless magazines, often gracing the cover and even on television.
“I was watching ‘Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World’ one night and they were doing a tribute to the late John Atkins with the National Wild Turkey Federation and the picture they used of him on television was one of mine,” Gulledge said. “You never know where your photos are going to end up.”
He got his first taste of photography at Bruce High School working on the yearbook. He taught himself everything from capturing the shot to developing in the dark room.
“I continued shooting pictures throughout my adult life,” the 60-year-old Gulledge said. “In 1998 I decided I would like to pursue it more than just a hobby and I set some goals to be published in national magazines.”
Gulledge, who has worked with Weyerhaeuser as a mid-rotation forester for more than 30 years, met all those goals and then some with his stories and photos.
“Writing takes a lot more effort,” Gulledge said. “Photography is more fun.”
He started simple with his equipment and gradually purchased better and better, sometimes finding used lens on ebay. Today he shoots with some of the top-of-the-line camera equipment.
“It’s been a big investment, but it’s been worth it,” Gulledge said.
He began shooting wildlife around his home in the Parker Community west of Bruce. He described it as “an extension of the hunting season.”
His primary targets are deer and turkey.
“I work mostly from blinds, but I do some walking and looking,” Gulledge said. “Field edges are always a good place. I try to set up looking north so when the sun comes up you have it behind you.”
“It’s a lot like hunting,” he said. “You are patterning where the deer and turkey are going to be and then you have to get the shot.”
“The cool thing about photography that’s different from hunting is that you see what the game does next. When hunting you see it, shoot it, and it’s over. With photography you get to experience more and you don’t have to field dress it and drag it home.”
Gulledge said early and late in the day are the best times to get the pictures he wants, due to better lighting and wildlife being on the move. His best shots also predominantly come in winter when the leaves are off the trees because of the better sight lines, he said.
“Turkeys are really hard to photograph because their bodies are so dark and their white head can really blow out and be overexposed,” Gulledge said. “It really challenges your skills.”
He switched from using film to digital cameras in 2006, which has many advantages including the instant feedback after making a picture.
“When you get the game up close and have the opportunity to observe and take a photograph, it’s a great feeling,” Gulledge said. “Then afterwards when you see your shot and you really nailed it, that’s what’s most rewarding.”
Gulledge said he’s still an avid hunter, but uses the camera over the gun these days a lot more with deer.
“I do hunt turkey,” said Gulledge, longtime activist and director of the Mississippi Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. “I’ve been guilty of killing a few of my models.”
Gulledge said he’s tried hunting and photography at the same time, but it’s “really hard.”
“I’ve had a lot more luck taking pictures than hunting this year,” he said.
In recent years, Gulledge has expanded his hobby into shooting sports. His grandson Jacob Shelton’s participation in t-ball motivated him to shoot pictures at the games.
“The more I shot of Jacob the more parents and grandparents started coming to me asking for shots of their kids,” Gulledge said.
Gulledge sells CDs and prints and fills a lot of photo requests by shooting at ballgames.
“The enthusiasm of the young people involved, especially t-ballers and little leaguers, I enjoy capturing that on film,” he said. “Having a parent say I captured the personality of their child in a picture is very rewarding.”
More recently Gulledge has expanded into even more areas of photography – shooting senior pictures.

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