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Claudia Daniels Finds Her Artistic Inspiration At The Venice Rookery

The Urban Refuge Provided By The Audubon Society's Rookery Provides Local Artist With Intimate Opportunities To Photograph Beautiful Regional Birds

Raised on the Rhine in Mainz, Germany, photographer Claudia Daniels first came to the United States in 1996 to study graphic design and business at the University of South Florida, where she also completed a Masters degree in English and multimedia. Her travels through Florida brought her to Venice, where she settled in 2003. 

“I loved Venice right away,” says Claudia. “I loved the small town feel and the nature that is always close by. There are so many animals and wildlife here. Venice turned out to be the perfect place for me.”

Much of her Venice-based photography happens at the Venice Rookery, an urban oasis of water and wildlife, managed and cared for by the Venice Area Audubon Society. Home to many species of waterfowl and wading birds, the Venice Rookery is an accessible wild space that is also visited throughout the year by passerine and migratory birds. All of Claudia’s photographs featured in this article were shot at the Venice Rookery.  Claudia also shot the June 2019, cover of Venice Lifestyle.

“I have always taken photos, ever since I was a child and had my first Polaroid camera,” says the affable Claudia. “In high school, I was in a photography club and we had our own dark room and developed all our own pictures, which was really neat. I started taking photographs of street scenes and portraits. Then I started shooting animals at the zoo and loved that so much that when I came to the States and saw the all wildlife we have here, I was really happy.”

Aside from her photography, Claudia is a realtor with RE/MAX Platinum Realty on Venice Island.

“The good thing about my profession is that it allows me to get up really early and take photographs before work,” says Claudia. “And then at the end of the day, I get to go back out and take more photographs.”

Claudia prefers shooting with the first and last light of the day. She recently switched her equipment from Canon to Olympus and Sony, and uses a wide variety of lenses. Commercially, she shoots products, food and restaurant photography, marketing and advertising promotions, as well as for QVC. She also does commercial videography.

“It is so challenging to shoot wildlife, they are always moving,” Claudia says. “Even with the challenge, I find it super relaxing and it is my favorite thing to do. When I first came to Florida, I didn’t even know the names of all the birds. But as I went out and began to shoot, I met people from the Audubon Society who helped educate me, and I attended lectures and have read so many wildlife books. When you are out shooting, you always meet people who will help you learn.” 

At the Venice Rookery, Claudia says it is important for a photographer to walk around between the two lakes and find where the birds are that day to get the best, most interesting shots. 

“Sometimes I shoot with a very low exposure compensation,” explains Claudia. “That brings the bird to the front and makes the background dark. You have to set your camera out to do that, in the last light. The light will have to hit the bird just right. It’s a difficult, fleeting thing to capture.”

Aside from the rookery, Claudia enjoys shooting at the Venice Jetty and Caspersen Beach. She travels for her photography and will soon visit South Africa and the Scottish Highlands. Her influences include Clyde Butcher, Ansel Adams and Mark Washburn.

“In shooting wildlife, anything can happen at any moment,” says Claudia. “Every moment is special and there are so many surprises. My advice to new wildlife photographers is to just keep shooting and enjoy the reward of being outside.”

Claudia sells her artistic photography at her website: claudiadanielsphotography.com and you can find her commercial work at Tarntec.com.

941.773.1447. Vacationinvenice@gmail.com 

  • A black-crowned night heron.
  • An ibis comes in for a landing.
  • Photographer Claudia Daniels.