Not far from the humble abodes of San Marcos residents lives one of photography’s most influential nature documentarians—a man with over twenty years of experience shooting and publishing photos.
Greg Lasley, a freelance nature photographer since 1988, began his fascination with wildlife as a teen in the 1960s. In the mid-1970s, Lasley’s interest in wildlife birds grew while he worked for the. Soon after, he began encountering unusual finds while bird watching, kicking off his journey in photography.
“My initial motivation was to document rarities,” Lasley said. “It used to be you’d have someone say they saw something, but with no photo, so no one believed it.”
In the 1980s, Lasley developed his skills as a photographer, acquiring better equipment and higher-quality photos along the way. His hobby paid off in 1988 when one of his photos of a Golden-cheeked Warbler was bought and published, earning him $300 and his first official mark on professional nature photography.
Lasley continued working throughout the 1990s, selling photo spreads to various nature magazines. His numerous contributions to Texas Birds formed his relationship with the magazine’s editor, Shannon Davies.
Davies, serving as natural science editor for Texas A&M University Press since 2000, noticed an intimacy within Lasley’s work and in 2006, approached Lasley on publishing a collection of his photographs.
“He has a real connection with nature,” Davies said. “(Lasley) captures the essence of the wildlife, the personality.”
Lasley’s first book, “Texas Wildlife Portraits,” hit shelves in 2008, offering Lasley’s vision to a broader audience. The book serves as a collection of not only birds, but other wildlife including insects, mammals, amphibians and reptiles, which Lasley began pursuing in 2001.
Up until 2000, Lasley’s focus was primarily birds. After participating in a 2001 photo contest featuring dragonflies, Lasley embraced the new subject and contacted John Abbott, University of Texas curator of entomology and dragonfly expert, for assistance with identifying various photographed species.
Lasley and Abbott continue to work side by side to this day, assisting one another in research projects and traveling the globe studying and documenting nature. Lasley supplies Abbott with photos for UT’s insect collection.
“(Lasley’s) not just taking pictures,” Abbott said. “He’s learning about what he shoots. It’s more than just photography with Greg.”
Abbott became intrigued with Lasley’s work upon noticing his method of shooting insect photography using bird photography techniques, such as the utilization of long telephoto lenses.
Currently, Lasley is helping supply photos for Abbott’s new book, a field guide to the dragonflies of Texas that will be published by UT Press as part of their Natural History Field Guide series sometime in 2014.
“I’ve worked with colleagues all over the world, but (Lasley’s) one of the greatest collaborators I’ve ever worked with,” Abbott said. “He’s very interested in sharing his work, which sets him apart from others.”
Today, Lasley resides in Dripping Springs, Texas. He continues to travel and supply photos for publication. He sometimes conducts workshops in the area, including in San Marcos, helping aspiring photographers refine their craft.
“Even if I weren’t selling photos, I’d still be taking them because I just like doing it,” Lasley said. “I realize that 95 percent of what I photograph will never get published, and that’s OK.”