Aberdeen’s antiques, landmarks, and wildlife through the lens of photographer Jeffrey Schulz
The ducks and kingfishers at Moccasin Creek are used to Jeffrey Schulz and his camera. Jeffrey doesn’t set up blinds or attempt to conceal the fact that he’s out there. The lifelong photographer says he just likes to be in nature and enjoys photographing birds doing the normal things they do. “Wild animals are smart. If you spend time around them, they’ll start to recognize and tolerate your presence so you can photograph them more,” he says.
Jeffrey’s love for the outdoors started at a young age. He spent his childhood in the country, first on a farm near the picturesque badlands by New England, North Dakota, and then later near Polo, South Dakota. “I grew up outside and always really loved nature and wildlife,” he explains. His photography career started at a young age too, when his parents bought him a small JCPenney 110 Pocket Camera for Christmas. After high school and college, he moved to Aberdeen and has been here ever since, garnering a 30-plus-year career at Cardinal Tool and taking care of his family, including wife Kathryn and daughter Megan. All the while, he’s also been snapping photos and learning more and more about photography. Just last year he decided to go professional with the hobby and formed Schulz’s Artistic Adventures. “I like doing art in any form. I’ve tried woodcarving and painting and things like that, but I’m not very good at those,” he laughs. “But photography is something I’m good at and have the patience for, and enjoy pursuing.” So far, the new venture has brought a lot of joy to Jeffrey’s family. Both Kathryn and Megan have tagged along on the adventure part, which involves finding sunrises, birds, and old vehicles to photograph. Kathryn sometimes gets behind the camera herself, and Megan takes charge when it comes to making sales at art shows. The family handles the photography, most of the printing (with the exception of very large items), and all the administrative tasks for their business.
To date, Jeffrey has created canvases, bookmarks, notecards, and framed prints from his photos. His work is on display at the Artworks Gallery in the Aberdeen Mall, online, and at art shows such as Winterfest and Arts in the Park. He is a self-taught photographer, learning from research, experimenting with different techniques, and talking to other artists. “If something catches my eye I’ll ask another photographer how they did it and then try and learn from that,” he says. Most of his prints are of birds, wildlife, vintage cars, trains, and airplanes, Aberdeen landmarks, and landscapes. He finds old vehicles to photograph by driving on country roads and following tips that others have given him on where to look. “It’s the character of those vehicles sitting there by themselves— it’s kind of sad but also nostalgic and beautiful at the same time—that’s what I try to capture in my photos,” he says. Though he usually snaps his pictures in or around Aberdeen, sometimes he’ll hop in the car with his family for a photography road trip to places like Medora or Nebraska during the sandhill crane migration.
For new photographers looking to improve, Jeffrey’s advice is practical. “Take lots of pictures, find out what it is you like to photograph, then do your research on the best camera and lens combination for that type of photography.” And of course, enjoy the adventure. // –Jenny Roth
You can see more of Jeffrey Schulz’s photography at the Artworks Gallery in the Aberdeen Mall, Schulz’s Artistic Adventures on Facebook, www.jeffreyschulz.photoshelter.com, www.jeffrey-schulz.pixels.com, and www.instagram.com/schulzsadventures.