By Tamas Mondovics

Thanks to today’s technology, it seems everyone is a photographer.
Easy to use, point-and-shoot cameras along with fully automated semi-professional equipment allow many to enjoy capturing a favorite moment of a loved one or an awesome sunset.

Some go as far as saying that capturing a great shot is just luck, or that it is just the matter of being at the right place at the right time. While this is true to some degree, the work of Valrico resident and international award-winning nature and wildlife photographer James Shadle testifies to the reality that it takes much more than simply pressing down the shutter button.

“When it comes to gear or skill, the answer is you need both, however skill and knowledge of your subject is much more important than your gear,” Shadle said, while steering his pontoon boat during a recent early morning trip on the Alafia River as he made his way out to Tampa Bay. The trip, which he called one of the best times to shoot, began at 6 a.m. at the Williams Park boat ramp in Riverview.

A professional nature photographer, photography and workshop conductor, Florida freshwater wetlands master naturalist, Captain – US Merchant Marine, who is often called Darth Vader because of his allegiance to the dark-side (Nikon Lenses), Shadle, 59, is known for his work appearing in a long list of publications including, Awake Magazine (2nd largest circulated magazine in the world), Popular Photography, Outdoor Photographer, National Geographic Adventure Magazine, National Wildlife Magazine just to name a few.

A true local community treasure, Shadle has been featured as one of Florida’s 21 most intriguing people by the Florida Monthly Magazine as well as Shutterbug Magazine, in the St.Petersburg Times and the Tampa Tribune.

Many of his impressive work appeared on the cover of major publications featuring bird and wildlife.

As for getting just the right shot of a bald eagle or a roseate spoonbill, Shadle emphasized the need to know where birds live and forage. What time of year, what the wind and the tides are doing, even the phase of the moon and yes a lot of patience.

While there are no shortage of interesting, intriguing, and talented people living in every community, finding one of Shadle’s caliber is a real community treasure.

For images and information visit Shadle at

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