Wayne Morgan believes wildlife photography requires patience and the ability to embrace the unexpected.
From photographing the Satilla River to capturing images of the wildlife in Alaska, the local photographer has spent the last 20 years honing his craft and picking up new skills.
“You never know what you’re going to find with wildlife. I just love trying to capture nature,” the Brantley County-based photographer said.
He discovered his passion for photography in 1999 after some health issues caused him to be out of work. To pass the time, he would go out fishing on the Altamaha and Satilla rivers with a friend. Wayne started to take photos of the wildlife along the rivers with a little digital camera he was given.
“After a while, I finally just let (his friend) fish, and I quit fishing because all I did was take pictures. I realized I loved to take pictures more than I did fishing,” Wayne said.
His love for nature and the Satilla and Altamaha rivers became the source of Wayne’s photography inspiration.
“I enjoy tracking animals, seeing what all I can get to come up and get pictures of them,” Wayne said.
To learn more about the technical side of photography, Wayne took three night classes at College of Coastal Georgia in 2003. He said he already knew how to take photos but he needed to learn more about the different camera settings.
Wayne said he only does minimal editing to his photos because for a long time he felt that it was “cheating.”
“I realize now sometimes you gotta do something. Sometimes I do lighten one or darken one up a bit. I try to do very little to it,” Wayne said.
Today, Wayne’s photography is “scattered all over.” His award-winning photographs of him have been used in magazines, books and can be found displayed at the local hospital in Brunswick. Former President Jimmy Carter even owns one of his photos of the Satilla river, he said.
Over the years, Wayne has published six different books that include his photography. He said he decided to publish his first book by him after finding out the local library did n’t have any books on the Satilla River.
“I know there’s a lot on the Okefenokee Swamp, but there were no books on the Satilla River at all. So then I had to go through the process of figuring out how to get a book done,” Wayne said. “When they delivered a thousand books to my house, I said ‘I’ve messed up,’ but they sold fairly quickly.”
After watching his father’s love for photography and nature grow over the years, Kyle Morgan developed his own love for the art form — like father, like son.
Kyle said that he started taking photos on his phone during the pandemic and decided to try shooting some using one of his dad’s old cameras.
“He’s gotten a lot farther in only one year than I have in the last 20 years,” Wayne said. “He’s got a lot of passion for it.”
Even though Kyle focuses on landscape and astrophotography, he said he still goes to his dad for help and guidance.
Kyle said one of the best pieces of advice Wayne gave him was to “just learn as much as you can with the camera and have fun with it.” Wayne explained to him that there is art in everything, and people will notice his passion, Kyle said.
“He helped me a lot more than anybody, and I’ve watched him grow through the years. I mean, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without him today,” Kyle said.
Kyle’s photography recently won awards in the aspiring division of the Big Photo Show, a contest hosted by the Coastal Georgia Photographer’s Guild at SoGlo gallery in downtown Brunswick.
Both Wayne and Kyle are members of the guild. The younger Morgan took home first place for a nighttime shot of the Milky Way and nabbed third place for a photo of a sunrise on Driftwood Beach. Kyle also won the aspiring division’s People’s Choice and Best in Show awards for an image of lightning.
Wayne said he could see Kyle is enjoying what he’s doing and hopes that he will continue to stick with it. Even though photography started out as a hobby, Kyle plans to get more into “the business side of it” in the future.
After turning his backyard into a nature preserve, Wayne continues to photograph wildlife but now in the comfort of his own home. He shares his work online on social media and at waynemorganartistry.com and hopes to publish another book in the near future. Kyle is also active on Facebook and Instagram.
He said he hopes to publish another book in the future. But for now, Wayne is relishing sharing his artistic passion with his son.
“For years, I didn’t think Kyle could care less about how much I loved taking pictures and the time I spent searching for what I liked best to take pictures of which is nature and wildlife,” Wayne said.
“In the past year, I have seen that he also has a passion for it and even though it is different from what I do, his work is very good and only will get better the more he shoots. It makes his mom and me very proud.”