UPDATE: I’ve reposted the questions I was asked during  “Ask and Expert” Q+A session held on the  Australian National Geographic Channel Facebook page on July 3rd 2015. Click here to read that post. For answers to the most common questions I’ve been asked scroll down.

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On my career as a photographer:

How did you get your start as a photographer, and more specifically a NatGeo photographer?

I’ll be writing a series of posts to answer this question, starting with this one. Check back soon for the continuation.

What influences you to do the kind of work you do? 

I answered this question here. 

For Aspiring Photographers:

What advice do you have for an aspiring photographer? Shoot, shoot and shoot some more – not only to hone your eye, but to keep the technical stuff fresh in your mind. Also, look at other photographers’ work. Once you have a strong portfolio you can pitch stories to local publications, submit to photo competitions or offer your services to NGO’s or conservation groups.

How can I get my foot in the door at Nat Geo?  To work for National Geographic as a photographer you need at least five years of photojournalism experience and an impressive portfolio. A full list of suggestions on how work for Nat Geo can be found here, on National Geographic’s site: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/siteindex/careers-faqs/

I want to become a photographer. Can you recommend a school or photojournalism program?  I attended the University of San Francisco in San Francisco, CA. Although that path worked out for me, you don’t need to study photography to become a photographer. Depending on what you want to photograph you might consider studying something that supports or compliment what you’d like to photograph. In the end you’ll have a more rounded education.

Do you allow students to “shadow” you in the field? My work is usually done in far-flung and remote places over the course of months, and sometimes in perilous and extreme conditions, so unfortunately it’s not possible to “shadow” me in the field.

On Camera Trapping:

How do you decide where to place your camera traps? That all depends on the animal. Researching and knowing an animal’s behavior is key on deciding where to place traps. Finding pug marks in the ground (Big Cat “foot” prints), and following natural trails is the first step. When I work with field biologists on assignments, I have the extra help of GPS tracking devices and telemetry to more accurately figure out locations. Once I’ve determined a trail and pattern I then look for scenic spots along those trails where I’ve got a good chance of getting a frame with the animal and it’s surrounding environment.

Can you point me to any online resources for camera trapping?

On image usage, licensing and other opportunities:

Can I use your photo as reference for a painting or other type of art work? The short answer to this is No. Due to another artists’ misuse of one of my photos I no longer allow my photos to be used as reference pieces for other types of art.

I’d like to license an image, how do I do that? Most of my images are licensed through National Geographic Creative. If the image you are interested in isn’t in NG Creative’s image bank contact me at swinterstudio@gmail.com.

I work for a non-profit conservation group with little to no photo budget  and we’d like to use a Steve Winter image for conservation purposes or to raise awareness. Is that possible? Please reach out to my studio manager at swinterstudio@gmail.com. I consider these request on a case-by-case basis.

I’d like to contact you for commercial work. Great! Please reach out to my agents at National Geographic Creative, here.