Nature is unpredictable. For Sharon Denny, the path to wildlife photography, for which she has accrued local acclaim, has been equally, well — wild. Growing up on the eastern shore of Maryland, she encountered many waterfowl and shore birds and developed a curiosity for the natural world early on. She dabbled in taking pictures as a kid, but it was her first job at the newspaper, The Star Democrat in Easton, Maryland, where a 35mm camera was thrust in her hands to capture images from the stories she was reporting on as a journalist.
She spent 20 years of her career at that paper, but when a Fortune-500 aerospace company recruited her into communications and then business strategy, she left her post as a writer to pursue another 20-year-long career.
In 2019, retirement called and so did her camera. She settled back in Rehoboth Beach to spend time in the serenity of nature. “Sometimes I find myself forgetting to take the photo because I am so enthralled with what I am seeing happening around me.”
This month, her work is on display as Peninsula Gallery’s Artist of the Month (peninsula-gallery.com). She is equally excited about her partnership with Delaware Center for the Inland Bays’ (inlandbays.org) live photography competition. Unlike other photo competitions, this one will take place over two days at James Farm Ecological Preserve, a spectacular oasis of wild land on Indian River Bay.
How did you get your start as a working photographer?
When I took up wildlife photography in retirement, I started putting my pictures on my Facebook page. I started getting requests about buying my work, and my answer was a resounding no, because the last thing I wanted was to make a business out of it. But it got so relentless, that I finally gave in. It still is very much a part-time thing, but something I do take seriously and take great pride in.”
What’s your trick for getting those perfect shots of animals in the wild?
One of the experiences I treasure the most happened by surprise. I was looking out my back window, safely in my house, and I saw some very young, first-day-out-of-the-den fox kits playing in a wooded area. They were so young and so cute, and they were just figuring out what life in the wild was all about. I grabbed my camera and in order not to scare them, I opened my window and removed the screen so I could capture them frolicking. All of sudden, a steady rain started to come down, and with the rain, came the mama. In my mind, I was thinking the mama was saying, ‘c’mon kids, we have to go inside.’ Two of the three ran off but one resistant cub was too fascinated. The mother fox came and got the baby. And the irony of the whole story is that I’ve spent a good deal of time sitting outside in very inhospitable conditions for hours waiting for something half that good to happen. And, as it turns out, my absolute favorite photo was taken from the shelter of my home. Life is funny and nature is unpredictable.
You are Peninsula’s Artist of the Month. How’d that all come about.
The Rehoboth Art League has a juried exhibit each year that is not easy to get into. I was lucky enough to have two images selected for this year’s show, and one of them was the fox picture. Tony Boyd-Heron, the owner of Peninsula Gallery, saw that and approached me about being a guest artist at the gallery.
Do you have a favorite animal to photograph?
I love bird photography, particularly shore birds. There is an elegance about them that is very photographable.
SHARON’S LOCAL FAVS
- Beach Fowler Beach
- Sunset spot New Road, Rehoboth Beach
- Restaurant Eden
- Lunch Lori’s Oy Vey Cafe
- Happy hour Drift