Nature Photographer Presents Kershaw Lecture

October 12, 2011

Nature photographer Jim Clark presented the Myrtie Allen Kershaw Lecture on Tuesday, October 11 at the University of Mount Union.
Clark used his life experiences and love of photography to inspire others during his lecture titled, Life Through the Lens. He used five milestones to explain the lessons he’s learned and how they have made him successful as a person and as a photographer. Throughout his entire presentation, Clark used photographs to help tell his story.
His first milestone and inspiration was Wars, West Virginia. “Everything I learned, I learned from this town,” said Clark.
Clark’s second milestone was fulfilling his dream of traveling to Alaska to work with grizzly bears, which is where he studied nature and gained self-confidence. The next milestone was the devastating explosion of his home in Matagorda Island.
“I lost thousands of images, all my manuscripts and even my underwear,” he said. “When you have those challenges in life, you find out what your true passions are. For me, I knew I had two options – I could either start over or give up. I decided to keep moving forward.”
Clark went on to state that his number one inspiration in life is his son, and being a parent has definitely been a milestone. Lastly, the September 11 attacks were his fifth and final milestone in his life. His family was deeply affected by the tragedy, and it was around this time when he learned to appreciate his own heroes.
As a nature photographer, his four favorite locations to photograph are West Virginia, the Eastern shore of Maryland, Yellowstone National Park and Banshee Reeks. Clark has immense passion for all of these locations and visits them as often as possible.
In addition to his milestones and favorite places to photograph, Clark discussed the three stages a photographer undergoes. While using his son as an example, he said the first stage is the very first step a photographer takes.  His son went out and had fun, which was a clear example that a photographer doesn’t use his or her brain the first time picking up a camera. 
The second stage is applying the learning techniques such as lighting, composition and exposure. In this stage, a photographer uses his or her brain to take a photo. The final stage is when the photographer uses his or her heart to take a picture.
“Waiting is one of the most important factors in this stage. Just by the simple act of patience, you get the picture,” said Clark. “You have to learn the art of patience. We’ve lost this in our generation.”
Clark ended his presentation by telling the audience that one doesn’t need to go to an exotic or historical place in order to take great photographs. “You can find opportunities right in your back yard. ”
Clark has been a naturalist ever since his days growing up in the coalfields of southern West Virginia, and he parlayed that passion into a life-long career as a wildlife biologist. For more than 35 years, Clark has used his photography, writing, speaking and teaching to inspire and motivate others. He is the author and photographer of four books – West Virginia: The Allegheny Highlands, Mountain Memories: An Appalachian Sense of Place, Between Ocean & Bay: A Celebration of the Eastern Shore and The Adventures of Buddy the Beaver, a book that he co-authored and photographed with his son, Carson. They also just completed their second book about Buddy the Beaver entitled, Mystery of the Missing Friends. Clark also co-authored and photographed The Ultimate Guide to Digital Nature Photography and Coal Country.
His photography and writing has appeared in magazines such as Nature’s Best, Defenders, Wildlife Refuge, Wonderful West Virginia, Birders World, Country, Photo Media and Wild Bird. He also has taken photographs for businesses such as Nikon, Nik Software, Zeiss Optics, Fuji Film, National Wildlife Federation and The Nature Conservancy.
Mountain Memories was also created to catalogue and showcase Clark’s career as a nature photographer. The documentary film, which aired on PBS in August 2003, was also shown at the prestigious 2005 American Conservation Film Festival.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Tennessee Tech University and a Master of Science degree from West Virginia University. In the past, Clark has taught courses at West Virginia University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and University of Alaska – Fairbanks. Clark is a former president of the North American Nature Photography Association, and from 2000-2008 he was a member of the Fujifilm Talent Team. He currently serves on the advisory board for Nature’s Best Magazine.
For more information on Clark, visit
The Myrtie Allen Kershaw Lectureship on Poetry and the Fine Arts was established in 1960 by a bequest from Myrtie Allen Kershaw of Kent, Ohio, who indicated in her will that such a fund should go to a college chosen by her friend and executrix of her estate, Elizabeth Clark Bell. Because of Mrs. Bell's personal interest in Mount Union, where she was a student in 1932-33 and where her uncle, Robert E. Stauffer, was a teacher and librarian for many years, she designated Mount Union to receive the fund. The income is used to bring to the University a person(s) of distinction, for one or more lectures on ancient or modern poetry, the fine arts, or music or for an original performance in one of these fields.

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