World-Class Wildlife Shooter is Corporate Contracts Wiz by Day… What?

I first met Pam Keith surrounded by ‘gators and vodka martini’s: it was on a hot afternoon out on Fripp Island, South Carolina. We were gathering the unwashed and the unrepentant to head over to watch the legendary “Fripp Island Sunset” off of a sandy point across from Paris Island Marine Corps Base.

Pam and I sat on the porch watching the ‘gators walk around the yard below, and she was fun, engaging, and had a discerning eye for the birds and the wildlife all around us. Especially the birds, the cranes, and the hawks.

Chefin’ an’ Shootin’

I came down a few times last summer to visit Chef Gary, a world-class chef with more Gumbo and Shrimp recipes than Martha Stewart and Paul Prudhomme combined (and my friend Mike, the VooDoo Chef in South Austin, let’s throw him in there too). I kept running into Pam and a few of her friends, so we figured we were kindred spirits, and we kept in touch. Then, a few months later, I was going to play 4 shows in the area, and Gary was out of town. Pam put me up at her beautiful house for a few days and I got to know her a little bit.

I had the guest bedroom, which I had to share with… gear. Being a guitar player and performer, I know all about sharing space with gear! Here, there was camera equipment everywhere. This was really high-end stuff like top-notch lens, tripods, light meters… you name it, and Pam had it.

We sat for a few hours on the porch, watching the amazing variety of wildlife that is in orbit around the pond, part of the larger eco-system of Port Royal, South Carolina. It was easy to see why she was inspired: as we sat there, world-class photos came and went with remarkable regularity.

Gear Queen of Port Royal

And Pam has all the gear necessary to capture these shots:

My current camera is a full sensor Canon 6D Mark II. Depending on where I’m going I’ll grab a Canon 24-105mm or 70-300mm lens, or my new fav, a Sigma 150-600mm which I can add a 1.4x multiplier to where “the sky is the limit.”

It was easy to see why she was inspired: as we sat there, world-class photos came and went with remarkable regularity, almost as remarkable as this single woman’s journey of survival, and re-inventing herself – and a new life – on the other side of the country.

I was born in Burbank CA. a long, long time ago. I retired as a Sr VP of Human Resources and Risk Management from a national Geotechnical and Environmental Engineering firm about 4 years ago. Leaving my suburban home a few miles outside of Los Angeles I drove as far across the country as I could without requiring a boat, ending up in the coastal town of Port Royal SC. My home is a short walk from the Inter Coastal Waterway, and a quick drive to the Atlantic Ocean. Here I can enjoy living with a variety of sea birds, shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl, songbirds, gators, and a plethora of other critters and bugs.

What better hobby to have than photography in such a beautiful place!

I am a member of a local photo club, and the Carolina Nature Photographers Association. I enjoy doing philanthropic work for a number of local groups photographing their events. I spent my first summer here working for a studio doing group photos of vacationing families at the beach and have had a monthly gig photographing a local merchants event (pre COVID).

I am happiest when I’m with the birds and critters.

During my most recent trip to Port Royal, I had a chance to see Pam at work, slinging a few cameras around, doing lens duty, setting up shots, being PR and pro-shooter at the same time. I was impressed by her patience, waiting to get the right shot. These days, Gentle Reader, it seems to this writer that “wait” and “sit tight” are words that have lost their meaning and power.

With the arrival of the digital camera and the “instant gratification culture” it amplified, and Mr. Poloraid could only have imagined, the process of setting up a shot, waiting for the exact moment to trip the shutter, getting it right… are disciplines of the long ago and far away.

Oh, and that has vanished along with the things that I always thought made hands-on photography such a wonderful challenge: Dektol and Tri-x 400 come to mind…

Now, you can just run the shutter and see what you get. If one photo looks good, well, that’s it, we’ll use that one. Lost is context, shot set-up… all the things that made Ansel Adams great, Annie Leibovitz the master of the portrait; Michael AW, Martin Bailey and Karen Lunney could learn a thing or three from Port Royals’ own Pammy Keith!

About the Artist

“If there’s a place for musical perfection, it’s wherever you’ll find Eric Sommer – A blistering acoustic style plus a variety of slide and open tuning formats will knock you for a loop…” wrote Studdie Burns, New Melody Maker/UK in 2013. “How one guy can do this so well is remarkable, but if you look a little deeper there’s a batch of road miles around this lad… and it all makes sense.”

Eric started his musical career in the Boston area under the eye of legendary promoter Don Law and was onstage at The Paradise Theatre in Boston for a record 40 appearances. He has been a regular player on many national and international tours and showcases, and worked in Europe for two years with Nick Lowe and acts Bram Tchaikovsky and Wreckless Eric; during this period Eric worked on Danish, German and British rock stages, returned to Boston and formed The Atomics.

As a founding member of Boston’s legendary pop/new wave cult trio “The Atomics”, who toured non-stop with Mission of Burma, Gang of Four and The Dead Kennedy’s and were on the leading edge of several musical transformations, Eric never lost sight of his acoustic roots, returning to his heroes and mentors often: David Bromberg, Steve Howe(YES), Duane Allman (Allman Bros.), Bert Jansch, Davy Graham, Robert Johnson. Mr. Sommer’s current project with power trio “The Solar Flares” shake up Chet Atkins and David Bromberg’s influences with those of Randy Travis and British Rocker Elvis Costello – a remarkable mix.

And to keep track of it all, Eric started keeping notes, which evolved from napkin scribbles to paper and pen efforts, writing stories, making poetry and capturing the roads and bridges as they went by, plus people, places and… more people which become his notes, then become characters for songs, stories, and prose.

Eric currently has four volumes of verse, 5 studio albums, a LIVE in AUSTIN DVD as well as an electronica project titled “The Smallest Particle” and more on the way… this blog is an attempt to keep track of it all…

Amen.

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You can reach Eric directly at ericATericsommer.com and see more of his projects here on this website. Red Chairs, Black Pancake and Blue Turtle are all available here, as well as all current releases. Please share and comment below.

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