For Brunswick resident Glenn Michaels, to take a well-shot photograph is to capture a unique moment in time and then share it with others.

“There’s two things I really enjoy about photography, and one is capturing that moment,” Michaels said. “The other is the light and the color and to be able to show people something they might not realize, might not see.”

A photographer for about 43 years, one of Michaels’ images recently was selected by the National Wildlife Federation, the largest conservation organization in the United States, to be featured on a holiday card and other merchandise.

The National Wildlife Federation is a nationwide nonprofit that focuses on conservation education and advocacy, according to the organization’s website. The group works across 52 states and territories and has about 6 million members.

The specific, winning shot is of a pelican perched on a pile at sunrise, with water dripping from its beak, in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Michaels said he was first notified his image was selected in January.

“You are competing amongst the best wildlife photographers in the world and that is not a bad place to be,” Michaels said. “It is kind of like fishing in a way. While the chances of me catching a record fish are rare, it is impossible to do so if my bait is not in the water. It is the same with the contest.”


Capturing the shot was a near four-hour process, Michaels said, although the photograph itself was taken with 1/4000th of a second shutter speed.

“You have to know the bird,” Michaels said. “You have to understand what they’re going to do, the process.”

Brunswick resident and 43-year photographer Glenn Michaels. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

This patience as well as research, according to Michaels, are some of the fundamentals of capturing a good photograph, along with a bit of luck. In addition to various other birds, Michaels also photographs alligators and other wildlife, as well as landscapes. He said he recently purchased a drone to begin working with aerial photography.

“To be able to stand out in photography you really have to understand your subject matter, you have to understand light – light fascinates me,” Michaels added, noting that over his career he was able to transition from film to digital photography successfully.

Proceeds from the National Wildlife Federation card will go to supporting the conservation and education efforts done by the organization, according to the group’s communications director, Meshal DeSantis.

“Every photographer who enters our contest is someone we think of as a ‘Nature’s Witness,’ using their passion for the natural world to create beautiful images that can inspire conservation,” said Editorial Director and Editor-in-Chief of National Wildlife Magazine Lisa Moore. “Whether they’re alone in the dark shooting the Milky Way or quietly strolling through a neighborhood to capture the beauty of a butterfly, they witness the majesty — and fragility — of nature and the world we’re all committed to protect.”

A photograph by Glenn Michaels of a baby alligator sitting on top of a mother alligator. The shot was featured in South, a “coffee-table” book about the southern U.S. Photo by Glenn Michaels

A conservationist and supporter of the National Wildlife Federation himself, Michaels agreed that photographs can help serve a larger goal of informing the public about nature’s beauty and inspiring conservation.

To see more work by Michaels, visit To learn more about the National Wildlife Federation or to see Michael’s card, visit

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