Meet Laurie

Laurie Excell - Photo © James CrowderMy love affair with the camera began at the age of ten when my father handed me an old, beat up Pentax Spotmatic to occupy my attention and keep me out of trouble at a camera club outing in Southern Utah. What to do with this hunk of metal that you look through, turn dials to focus, adjust the knobs to align the needle and then push a button to make an exposure and an image is captured on a piece of celluloid that you took to a lab for processing into slides that were projected on the wall for all to enjoy.

My first images were horrible but I didn’t know that. All I knew was that I had faced the photography beast and came out successful on the other side with the images to prove it! I was hooked! From that moment on, if you saw me, you likely saw a camera around my neck. My camera and I were inseparable. It was like having the key to the magic kingdom. My camera opened doors that a shy young girl would have been far to nervous to even attempt on her own but, with camera in hand, I strode confidently into any and all events and made the images that were needed for the high school yearbook where I was the photo editor.

I was so hooked on photography that I jumped at a chance to work part time at the camera store where my dad worked over the summer of my sixteenth birthday. Talk about a photographic high; I would go to work each day and be surrounded by cameras, packets of processed film and people who came in to buy a new camera, lens or accessory or to pick up the processed film from their latest family vacation, safari, recital or other photo worthy events.

In addition to working at camera stores, I fueled my passion for photography by joining the camera club that my parents belonged to and it wasn’t long before I was taking home awards each month. It was a moment of great pleasure when I won year-end top award for my division while my mom won top in hers and my dad won photographer when I was eighteen years old.

For the next twenty-five years I worked in retail camera sales both in Utah and later in Oregon where I moved in 1991. It was while working at a local camera store in Portland, that I met Moose Peterson who was in town to give a seminar and workshop that our store was sponsoring. I could say “the rest is history” as it is but, for anyone interested, I’ll give the longer version…

After presenting in Portland his first time, Moose began sending his clients to me to purchase their camera equipment. He knew that I didn’t feel that these people were simply sales but new friends who I was helping to problem solve so they would have the best equipment for their particular needs. I lived vicariously through these contacts and their stories of places they visited.

My desire to take my photography to the next level bubbled to the surface and I began to have dreams of being a professional photographer, exploring the planet with camera in hand and then sharing the wonders I had found with the world through my images. It wasn’t long after these dreams began that they turned into a reality when Moose asked me to be his assistant on his wildlife safaris. It took me long enough to get the word YES out of my mouth to accept.

And thus began our decade plus mentor/mentee, big brother/little sister, friend/friend relationship that held up through many months of traveling together to some remote locations in all kinds of weather conditions with all sorts of interesting people. What a great gift to be able learn at the feet of one of the most respected wildlife photographers and wildlife digital pioneers of the day.

I soaked up as much I as could about wildlife behavior and photography techniques at capturing what I saw through the viewfinder in my images. I moved from assistant to fellow instructor at DLWS for a number of years and had forty-three events under my belt when I “retired” in 2010 to continue the pursuit of my personal and professional dreams and goals.

I have won several awards for photographic excellence through the years and for my photographic instruction skills. I have taught at Photoshop world several times, been guest speaker at many camera club and photo store events and enjoy working one on one with personal instruction geared to help take you to the next level in your photography learning to complete the process of image making by improving your finishing skills.

I also lead Excellent Photo Adventures  throughout North America taking small, intimate groups to some of my favorite locations such as Alaska to photograph coastal brown bears, Yellowstone in winter, spring and fall to capture wildlife and the landscape at it’s best, Tornado Alley chasing super-cells with our cameras in hand along with many others.

While I still love having a camera in hand to the exclusion of nearly all other activities, I have found incredible rewards in sharing my passion, my knowledge and my skills with you. I love seeing the light bulb go off and the resulting images that you make when you have a “get it” moment. The look of delight on your face when you see the results of your hard work in your images warms my heart.

All of the people I have met  (you) along this incredible journey have each made huge impacts in your own way. I thank you all for a moment’s meeting, a passing acquaintance and a lasting friendship. I am the person I am today for having known you all!

I hope you enjoy my images and stories, tips and tutorials in this blog. If you like the images, they are all for sale and if one of my many Excellent Photo Adventures appeals to you I will love having you join me.

Happy shooting,

Laurie