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Photographer Jerry Fairlie

06/30/2009 05:00PM ● Published by Wendy Sipple

Photo by Dante Fontana.

Jerry Fairlie credits his love of birds to his dad. Every weekend Jerry’s dad, a nature counselor for the Boy Scouts, would take him and a group of scouts bird watching. You’d think that’d be torture for most kids, but not Jerry.

“I thoroughly enjoyed it; it was an opportunity to be with my dad, and to learn,” Fairlie says. “My dad started an interest in birds that I’ve had my whole life; I think they’re beautiful.”
Even with that love, it wasn’t until he retired and moved to Folsom that he got serious about looking at birds through a viewfinder. Folsom’s prized bike trails have become his studio, especially along the waterways. He’s on them several mornings a week, in constant search of his subject. He‘ll be the first to say it’s a hobby, not a profession, but people all over Folsom love his work.

At first, he just started bringing his pictures into a local bird shop where he and the owner would enjoy looking them over. After months of prodding, Fairlie finally “did something” with his photos and put together a little brochure. He showed that brochure to executives at Folsom’s Parks & Recreation Department who later asked if he’d donate his photos for a 2008 fundraising calendar. He agreed, the calendars went to press and Fairlie recieved a great deal of public recognition. Brisbane Chiropractic now features Fairlie’s work in their lobby, as does the Procissi Wine Gallery on Sutter Street.

For those who’ve ever tried, you know that getting a good picture of a bird isn’t easy. “You have to be very patient; they’re not just going to sit and pose for you,” Fairlie says. He tries to get unique shots, where the bird looks like it’s expressing some attitude or emotion. He has a great picture of a Western bluebird that’s got an “I’m in charge” air about him, and another shot of a Waxwing grabbing a berry and looking at him like he’s an uninvited guest.

He’s also captured shots of migratory birds that only call Folsom home for a few days a year, and shots of other birds and wild animals – pheasants and bobcats for example – you’d never expect to find cruising around the suburbs. And that’s something at the crux of his “hobby;” he enjoys showing people the beauty of nature in their own backyards.

“I see so many people on the trails walking or riding along listening to their iPods, and they have no clue about what’s going on around them,” Fairlie says. “It’s amazing what you can see out there when you just look around.”

Up next, Fairlie is starting to look at approaching some local galleries and building a Web site, but he admits it’s slow in coming. “This whole thing is new to me, and a little overwhelming,” he says. “I’ve always liked sharing my photos with friends, but never realized I’d be getting this much back from it. It’s been very encouraging.”


For more information about Jerry Fairlie, contact him at jerryfairlie@sbcglobal.net.

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