Steve Ceragno: Recapping My First Year As a Birder

Thanks to Steve Ceragno for this great write-up looking back on his first year as a birder!

I’ve been birding and doing photos for a year… What a rewarding journey this first year has been. I thought I’d share my thoughts on shifting my personal passion from music to bird photography.

Many of my music friends don’t get it. Heck, I didn’t get it, until I got IT. Then I bought a camera, went to a park, and realized that I can be 3 miles from home, deep in the swamps of the Meadowlands, and be a million miles from home.

The cacophony of the cars, traffic, horns, airplanes becomes a sweet white noise that just fades when you are out there. There’s an inner peace it gives you. Add the birds into it, and then it becomes an addiction to capture something different, something interesting, something special.


The relationships alone are worth it, reconnecting with one of my oldest friends Kevin Bolton. Kevin always keeps things interesting. Since I was 17 jamming guitar with funny poofy hair to today. I’ve learned mostly everything about birds and photography from this guy.

Meeting new friends along the way like Ray Guidetti, Dede, Johnny Birds, Ken, Kevin O’Grady. These guys are all just cool, good people who share the same passion to capture a moment. Then you have people out there happy to help educate you, people like Chris Takacs, Ron Shields and Jill Homcy. There are many others out there who are selfless about connecting us to nature.

Once you are out there, it becomes a drug. A friendly competition with your guys to get a “life bird” or to get a better angle on a shot. Mostly, it’s a social club. We all know a lot about each other, and pick up where we left off when we are in the field. There’s a lot of joking, and in most cases it’s the best medicine after a hard workday. Sometimes, you get ‘skunked.’ that means no birds, and getting skunked is the worst, so having a joke with your crew lessens the pain of walking away with no pictures on your memory card.

The discipline of getting up sometimes 2 hours BEFORE sunrise brings about an immediate payoff. When you see the world wake up, it gives you confidence that you are seeing the world the way it ought to be. Yes, it changes back to reality, but that time is inspiring. Capturing it is even better. There is the workflow of editing and spicing up your pics. It’s exciting to see your work take shape. It’s part of the reward when you finally share it with the world.

I’m high-wired by default, but this new world has calmed me, and even changed the way I view many things, from the environment to how the climate effects us. Thanks for letting me share what I do with you, I’ve been told many times that it’s a nice distraction on Facebook from the ugly political posts.

I’m excited to continue where this crazy bird photography is going to take me.




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