Bill Marchel, of Fort Ripley, Minnesota, is a full-time wildlife and outdoor photographer/writer. Marchel’s photography files contain over 130,000 images. He has sold thousands of images—including more than 130 magazine cover photos to prestigious magazines such as Audubon, Field & Stream, Outdoor Life and Ducks Unlimited. Marchel is also a freelance contributor to several Minnesota newspapers, including the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
As a self-taught photographer, Marchel stresses that, “Although I’m an equipment freak and I’m constantly updating my photography gear, I feel a knowledge of one’s subjects is more important to producing good wildlife photos than camera know-how. The basics of photography can be learned rather quickly, but one can never know enough about nature.”
Marchel lives on 70 acres of land, which he has extensively landscaped for wildlife. Some of his best images were taken, literally, in his backyard. He chooses not to photograph captive animals and relishes the pursuit more than any other aspect of his nature photography business. “I’d rather photograph a colorful male wood duck on a remote pond, or even a hummingbird at a flower, than a grizzly bear or wolf that is in captivity,” said Marchel. However, he is also highly considerate of his subjects, and goes to the extreme to minimize stress on the wild subjects he photographs.
His knowledge of nature and its ways show in his images. “I bought my first camera when I was in my early twenties because I wanted to spend more time outdoors,” said Bill. “As a youngster, I spent much of my free time studying nature, especially birds and mammals, and photographing things dear to me seemed like the next step. I love being outdoors, and my nature photography business has allowed me to do just that.”
You won’t find computer-manipulated wildlife fantasy images in Bill’s image files. “Nature is grand,” said Marchel. “Why would I want to change it?” With that thought in mind, he attempts to capture on film, not only the good in nature, but also what we humans perceive to be the bad and the ugly in nature. For example, his extensive files of whitetail deer images include intimate shots of does with their fawns, giant, rut-crazed bucks fighting for the right to breed, and fallen deer that met their fates at the fangs of coyotes and wolves. “The outdoors is not a fantasyland where Bambi and friends live happily ever after,” said Marchel. “Plants and animals must die every day so others can live. That’s reality, whether we like it or not.”