Photographer Spotlight: E.J. Peiker

March 11th, 2011 by Matt Dennison

Name a distant corner of the world associated with photography, chances are E.J. Peiker has been there, or is heading there soon.  Born in 1960 in Augsburg, Germany, and moving to Mansfield, Ohio, in 1969, E.J. became an American citizen in 1975.

E.J.’s photographic journey started when he received his first camera at age 7, while still in Germany – a square-format, Kodak 126 Instamatic.  He still has it. At age 12, he graduated to a Yashica 35mm rangefinder and began to take photography more seriously.  His favorite subject matter was landscape photography.

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In 1990, E.J.’s photographic aspirations came to a sudden stop.  While skiing, E.J. suffered such a serious injury that he was diagnosed as unable to walk again, possibly even losing a leg.  As it appeared that E.J. would not be mobile without assistance, he sold all his camera gear.  However, determination, resolve, several surgeries and painful physical therapy resulted in E.J.’s full recovery 3 1/2 years later. 

Even though he did not photograph, E.J. put his recovery years to good use.  His interest in aviation took over and provided him motivation during that tough time. He earned his Private Pilot, Instrument Pilot, Multi-engine Pilot and Commercial Pilot certificates, and became heavily involved in advanced flight simulation.  He even logged time in American Airline's full motion flight simulators where he learned to fly a Boeing 727!

After his full recovery, E.J. returned to the world of photography, starting out again with Olympus gear, and migrating to Nikon equipment. His choice of Nikon was heavily influenced by John Shaw's photography, and E.J. concentrated primarily on Southwestern landscapes and captive species animal photography.

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In 1999, E.J.’s photographic world expanded when he was introduced to the beautiful bird photography of Arthur Morris through Arthur’s book "The Art of Bird Photography".  As with many of today’s nature photographers, this book prompted both a keen interest in avian photography, and a switch to Canon equipment for image stabilized lenses.

E.J.’s previous career path took him through the field of electrical engineering, working for the Intel Corporation in California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Arizona, where he engaged in the production of microprocessors, chip-sets, and communication chips.  During that time, he studied photography at the University of New Mexico, the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, and participated in photography seminars and workshops led by renowned photographers including John Shaw, Arthur Morris, and Charles Glatzer.

E.J. began planning his career move into professional photography in 2000, with a target of 2004 for his change. Investment volatility and an unstable economy changed the plans of many Americans, and E.J. had to adapt and extend his plan.  He finally made the change to full time professional nature photographer in 2010.  Today, E.J. is a Nikon shooter, having made the switch from Canon gear that same year.

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Artistic images of ducks are E.J.’s photographic specialty, and he teaches others duck and bird photography through his DuckShopTM photographic workshop series.  E.J. has also expanded his love for landscape photography and is heavily engaged in creating artistic landscape images of world's great scenic wonders.  Well traveled, E.J. has been fortunate enough to photograph 6 of our planet's 7 continents.

Why the concentration on ducks?  In E.J.’s words:

“I have often been asked why I like to photograph ducks so much.  Ever since I was a young boy, I have loved their ungainly waddle when on land and their graceful ability to cut through water and air as if they were defying gravity and friction.   Some of the most incredible patterns in nature are found in the plumage of ducks.  Their colors range the entire spectrum and in one case, every color in the spectrum is contained in one bird – the male Mandarin Duck.  Another intriguing thing about them is the ability to completely transform from a drab brown bird into an incredible array of colors in just a few weeks.  Finally, ducks have a lot of personality and are much more intelligent than most people realize.  There are a number of individual ducks that come back year after year to the Phoenix area that immediately recognize me from the previous years and become very tame around me while they stay away from people that they don’t know.  There is a familiarity and a knowledge on their part that this particular human won't hurt me.”

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Now an accomplished professional nature photographer, E.J.’s images have been published in many nature, agriculture and photography magazines and books including Outdoor Photographer, Popular Photography, Birding Magazine, Audubon Society publications, National Geographic, and Barron's.  The US National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Department and many zoos use his images in their brochures and for their identification displays.  You’ll find E.J.’s images in different places such as on T-shirts, wine labels and in iPhone apps.  E.J. also stays active on the net, not only with his own website, facebook and his ebook, but with nature photography forums such as NaturePhotographers.net and Naturescapes.net.

When he’s not flying around the world in pursuit of landscapes and ducks, E.J. resides in sunny Chandler, AZ with his two sons, Nicholas and Gregory.

You can view E.J.'s website, with wonderful images and workshop information here:  www.ejphoto.com

Check out E.J.'s new ebook in the store here: Ducks of North America

Find E.J. on Facebook here:  link

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