Interview with a Photographer

Renee -- May 29th, 2009

wildlife cover frontEvan Dyson, recent JMU graduate, area photographer, and former hburgnews contributor has self-published his book, “Wildlife: A Photographic Record of the Shenandoah Valley”, which is available for sale starting today. Read below for our e-interview with Evan.

hburgnews: How did you get into photography in the first place?

Evan: Photography was a love that began for me in a high school darkroom… I was fascinated by freezing time on film. Having friends with an interest in photography at that time helped a lot too.

hburgnews: What was it that made you decide to start a book, especially so soon after graduating college?

Evan: The idea to make a book was a gradual progression and didn’t happen overnight. Last year I had been visiting Shenandoah National Park on a regular basis and had my camera with me every time. In that time, I noticed I had begun a nice collection of images and I eventually decided that I wanted to create a comprehensive record of what I had been seeing around the Valley.

I majored in Media Arts & Design at JMU, and my specific concentration was print journalism…. I like learning about new ways to disseminate information and it seemed like a great project to learn about the process myself. To me, it was like a year of self-assigned grad school… I wanted to know how different aspects of book production [such as getting an ISBN] happened.

hburgnews: How many days of shooting did it take to get your final selection, and how many photos made it into the book?

Evan: After a while, it all became a blur, but at some points during the project, I spent more days in the woods than out. In the end, I spent a year working on the collection and book production (since May 2008) and the book contains 88 images.

hburgnews: What was your most memorable experience while taking photos for the book?

Evan: Many times I looked at it like a treasure hunt, knowing that certain animals were around and waiting for the day that everything timed out correctly. Working on a wildlife collection involves a significant amount of luck by being in the right place at the right time. Certain experiences that jump out in my memory are the joy of finding a bobcat while still remaining outwardly calm enough to photograph it, nearly getting stuck in the park overnight due to snow, and gazing into the eyes of equally curious bears.

hburgnews: Why blog the whole process at

Evan: I had been interested in documenting the bookmaking process so that, after it was all over, I could look back and remember specifically how things were done. Using a blog and other social media outlets provides a great resource for letting others know what you’re up to.

As I wrote about my outings, I was able to make some great contacts who often told me about other creatures to look for and places to check out. The best part about blogging experiences is that, once you gain regular readers, the experience as a whole feels more collaborative even if you are the only one in the field.

hburgnews: What are your expectations moving forward? Has this experience made you want to do it all again with another book in the future?

Evan: I’ve said many times during this process that selling many copies was not the most important aspect. If I do, great, but to me, it’s been about learning and sharing with those who truly care about the Valley. As long as there is more to learn, I’ll be trying. It’s been a joy to see a physical result from my adventures and it wouldn’t be out of the question for more projects to roll out in the future.


“This 120-page hardcover is approximately 7×7 inches and features 88 images from around Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley, all taken within the past year. It’s a perfect addition to any coffee table or bookshelf.

Some animals photographed are common, others unique, but all valuable to the world in which we live. So prepare to kick back, relax and take a peek into the beauty of nature.” (from

The first copies of “Wildlife: A Photographic Record of the Shenandoah Valley” by Evan Dyson are available by print-on-demand purchase for $49.95 at

Check out a full-screen preview of the book here:

and see Evan Dyson’s other photographic endeavors on his personal website

3 Responses to “Interview with a Photographer”

  1. Emmy says:

    Simply breathtaking Evan. Fabulous work!

  2. Joey Groah says:

    Congrats, Evan, great stuff. Good luck with the book.

    Renee/hburgnews, how about a regular interview feature with Valley residents?

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