7 Questions with Ariel Fields: 17-Year-Old Wildlife Photographer and Adobe Rising Star

17-years-old photographer Ariel Fields is something of a wunderkind. Still four years away from being able to drink legally (in the US at least), the young wildlife photographer and 2019 Adobe Rising Star is already making a name for himself in a genre dominated by veteran shooters with decades of experience.

We recently had the opportunity to send Ariel a few questions and find out more about this young upstart: where he came from, how he advanced so quickly in his photography career, and where he wants to go from here.

PetaPixel: First and foremost, congratulations on being named one of Adobe’s “Rising Stars” this year! How did it feel to be included in that group at just 17 years old?

Ariel Fields: Thanks a lot for the kind words! It’s such an honor to be recognized amongst 9 other talented artists as an Adobe Rising Star. I was very excited when Adobe contacted me!

PP: Your bio says you got your first camera at 13. What was that camera? And what gear do you shoot with today?

AF: So my first camera was the Nikon D3300, which is still a great camera for beginners/anyone passionate about photography. Nowadays, I’m a bit more advanced gear-wise owning the Nikon D500 and Nikon D7100 as a backup camera. I’ve recently started camera-trapping animals so the D7100 comes in handy since I prefer not to take the risk of leaving my D500 in the middle of nowhere.

My setup for wildlife photography is the D500 & D7100, as mentioned above, equipped with the Nikon lenses 17-55mm f/2.8 + 200-500mm f/5.6 + 105mm f/2.8

PP: How did you progress so quickly? YouTube tutorials? Tons of practice? Witchcraft?

AF: My strategy was mainly a lot of practice and looking at other photographer’s work which gave me motivation and inspiration… learning how they captured a specific shot by understanding the settings and angles of light and in general defining what the photographer was thinking behind the scenes when capturing the shot. Another strategy was reading books / blogs online as well as joining online forums.

In the early stages of my career when I was still trying to find myself, I photographed nearly anything I could find, which helped me build my skills. I also learned how to use Lightroom Classic and Photoshop, so I have a variety of tools and adjustments to use while editing.

I believe that having your own unique style of editing is important for your recognition as an artist. I personally love using the Dodge and Burn tools in Photoshop to control areas of light in photos, bringing them back to what I saw in reality. I’m not a fan of over-editing, so having that control is essential to my style.

One quote that serves as my personal inspiration (and is good to keep in mind as you learn) is that of Pablo Picasso, “Learn the rules like a pro, break them like an artist.”

PP: Do you do most of your photography close to home? If not, how do you find the resources to travel and shoot wildlife … the genre can get expensive fast!

AF: Nature photography can definitely be expensive due to the costs of the gear and travel to locations, but the majority of my work was captured locally near my house.

I live in Central Israel, so wildlife here can sometimes be promising and exciting. For example, the Striped Hyena I photographed lives in areas surrounding the city. I had to frequently visit the one den I knew about because she wasn’t always there. Additionally, every summer I fly abroad with my family. Those trips add a variety of animal species and landscapes to my portfolio (without the expenses coming out of my pocket, haha).

PP: What do you hope to accomplish with your photography in the next year? 5 years?

AF: Photography is constantly evolving for me. Just like many other photographers, I have to see where life takes me. I hope to continue to have the privilege of being recognized, and ability to share my findings with the world.

I also hope my work will continue to raise awareness for the natural world, as well as promote conservation for precious places.

PP: What advice would you give to other young creatives who are just discovering their passion for photography? Did you do anything in particular “differently” from others when you started out?

AF: Try to be different and stand out from the crowd. Challenge yourself with unique compositions, play with the light, and find your own editing style. When I first started out I joined multiple communities of photographers on Facebook groups. Stick to the photographers who inspire you!

PP: Can you share your favorite image and tell us the story behind it?

AF: One of my favorite images was taken in the Negev desert in Israel: watching two Nubian Ibex at battle during sunrise was such an amazing experience as a wildlife photographer!

That image received recognition in the youth category of the 2019 Nature’s Best Photography competition!

A big thank you to Ariel for taking the time to answer our questions and share some of his work with us. To see more of his work or follow him as he continues on his photographic journey, visit his website or give him a follow on Instagram and Facebook.

Given how much he’s achieved in his first 4 years as a photographer, we can’t wait to see where he goes from here.