Natural Selection Nature Photography
About Mark J. Thomas

Mark J. ThomasBorn in Boynton Beach, Florida , Mark Thomas learned to appreciate nature at a very young age. Growing up in South Florida, only minutes from the ocean, the Everglades, and the Florida Keys, afforded him endless opportunities to observe wildlife during his youth. From the time he could swim  he was "shaking" small creatures from the seaweed at the beach into a pail where he would watch them for hours. When he got a bit older he began snorkeling and catching fish for his fish tank at home. By the age of 13, he was already a certified SCUBA diver.

Throughout his high school years, He worked at a tropical fish store. This was the perfect place for him to work. Besides being surrounded by the wildlife he enjoyed, he was also able to share his knowledge and love of nature with others, a trait he still possesses.

Mark's appreciation of nature naturally carried over into his adult life. While attending Pharmacy College at the University of Florida in Gainesville, he found himself surrounded by new environments to explore. Even with a demanding academic schedule, he always found time to explore the nearby freshwater springs and hardwood forests. One of his favorite places to visit was Paynes Prairie Preserve, just outside of town. Highway 441 cuts right through the preserve for a couple of miles. Along that short stretch of highway, especially after a strong rain, dozens of animals could often be found. Turtles, frogs, alligators and several snake species would "migrate" across the road. This is where Mark first started taking pictures of wildlife. At that time, he had absolutely no thought of becoming a professional photographer. He simply wanted to capture on film what he had seen to show others.

He graduated with Honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. Mark worked as a pharmacist at a hospital in North Miami and at a retail pharmacy in the same area. To the delight of the other pharmacists at the hospital, Mark wanted to work the "graveyard" shift ( 10 PM to 8 AM ) fulltime. He now had an alternating 3 days on, 4 days off schedule, which made it easy for him to spend time in one of his favorite places, Everglades National Park.

Mark J. Thomas DivingMark's photographic skills rapidly improved. It was no longer enough for him to simply get a nice picture of an animal.  He now felt the need to capture the true "essence" of each subject on film. Through ongoing trial and error (and lots of film), and with no formal training,  Mark mastered the critical elements of exposure, composition, and most importantly, technique. As crucial as these technical aspects are to good photography, it is his passion for nature that truly sets Mark's work apart.

About this time, Mark started thinking that maybe his work was finally good enough to share with others. He began submitting his images to magazines, calendars and contests and also started exhibiting his work at small, local art shows. The response was immediate and very encouraging. Three very prominent environmental organizations, The National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, and The Sierra Club all published work from Mark's first submissions to them. He also won 1st Place in the Florida Wildlife magazine photo contest four years in a row. 

By now, it had become increasingly difficult for Mark to resist the "call of the wild." He began to realize that he could no longer divide his time between pharmacy and photography. To really succeed with nature photography, he knew that he must be able to travel at any time of year, not just during a two-week vacation. 

So in December of 1992, with little hesitation, Mark chose to turn his avocation into a way of life. This decision allowed him to exhibit at more and better juried fine art shows, where he has accumulated many awards, submit more work to publishers, and most importantly, get out and shoot more! Now freed from the constraints of a "real job," Mark was able to passionately pursue his photography.  Ever drawn to the ocean, he quickly mastered the skills needed for underwater photography. 

Mark won 1st place in one of the categories of the National Wildlife photo contest. He also won 1st Place and the "People's Choice" award in the 1994 Outdoor Writers of America (OWAA) photo competition. Nancy Kee of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) acclaimed Mark as "the find of the year" after receiving their first submission of his work for their calendars. 

Mark J. Thomas in Japanese AlpsMark's travels have now taken him around the world. He has visited every continent in pursuit of his passion. His photography knows few boundaries. He is equally at home among the lions of East Africa, penguins of Antarctica, polar bears of the frozen north, or the sea creatures 100 feet beneath some tropical ocean.

His images are now published regularly around the world. National Geographic, National Wildlife, Nature's Best, Audubon, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Reader's Digest, Ranger Rick, and Sierra are but a few of the many publishers that use his work. He continues to exhibit at about 20 art shows during the year throughout the eastern United States, but especially in Florida. This aspect of the business is very fulfilling for Mark. It is at these shows where he has the opportunity to share his experiences with those who appreciate his work.

Mark's philosophy on nature photography is refreshingly simple... "Respect the animals, their habitats, and the rights of the other people who have also come to enjoy them. Besides simply trying to make a beautiful photograph, it is important to me that each of my photographs also tells a story. Through my photography I hope to help people become more aware of our wondrous natural world and how important it is that we preserve it."

"I hope you enjoy your journey through my Website"

 


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Natural Selection, P.O. Box 5202, Hollywood, FL 33083-5202
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