Many of the beautiful images of nature that grace the cover of Coastal Breeze News were shot by local photographer Frank Steiger.
Frank is widely known throughout Southwest Florida, having photographed innumerable Marco Island weddings and events. He is often seen, camera in tow, volunteering his time and talent at the many community events for Christmas Island Style, the Marco Island Police Foundation, and other non-profit groups.
But some of our readers who have enjoyed Frank’s photographs for years may not know that Frank is also a Marco Island police officer. Frank first joined the island’s police department in 2006. In 2013, he retired to become Ave Maria University’s director of security. A year later he was back on Marco Island, rejoining the police department, where he currently serves as a road patrol officer.
Frank Steiger Photography began in 2012, encouraged by the many people who saw Frank’s talent, and urged him to photograph in a professional,rather than recreational, capacity.
A resident of Marco Island since 2008, Frank is originally from South Bend, Indiana. He wasn’t a complete stranger to Southwest Florida, having spent his freshman year of college at Edison Community College in Ft. Myers.
We asked Frank to answer a few questions for Coastal Breeze News so we could learn (and share) more about him and his art.
When did you discover you had a talent for photography?
I’m still trying to figure out if I do have any talent (grinning). I’m constantly joking about how I get “lucky.” But, as we know, “Luck favors the prepared.” Florida is teeming with talented photographers. I’m always trying to better myself. It keeps me humble.
How did you learn the technical aspects of the art, including lighting and equipment?
I’m self-taught. First, I bought books and magazines. Then, I watched online videos. I’ve asked other photographers, and some were more than willing to help, while others – not so willing. Taking online courses benefitted me greatly. Lastly, “doing.” You need to know what all those knobs on your camera do. Sometimes, trials and error are your best friends when practicing, but you have to stick with it. Practice, practice, practice. I’ll stop learning when I’m dead.
What are your favorite things to photograph?
That’s an easy one – nature and landscapes. I love wildlife, as much as I do sunrises, sunsets, mountains and oceans. These are my favorite, but over the past couple of years, my main work has been events, senior portraits, family portraits, and homes for realtors. I also started shooting sporting events this past year. Mostly high school football, which was a blast! Photography is a very expensive business, so sometimes you go where the money is. I love all aspects of photography, so it’s never really work. It’s not work when you love what you’re doing, but that next lens you want isn’t cheap.
Does photography help with the inevitable stress of beinga police officer?
OMG – YES! When I’m shooting landscape and/or nature, it “forces” my mind to slow down. It forces me to be patient, and when you’re shooting wildlife, patience is a must. Waiting for the right light, waiting on the animal to turn just right…all takes patience. As an officer, when you’re needed, you’re needed NOW. We don’t get that luxury of being patient. We’re going to a crisis, we need to solve that crisis, and then move on to the next one. On the flip side to that coin, shooting a wedding can be extremely stressful. So many things can go wrong, and you only get “one” shot at it. There’s also the human factor involved, over stressed brides (bridezillas), and not one, but two mothers-in-law…LOL! Walking up on a 12’ alligator just 6 feet away in tall grass can be stressful. Having your camera all set up on a tripod and just before you’re ready to take that shot, someone decides they want to walk in front of your camera and camp out there… I have very little patience with those people.
Are there any similarities between being a photographer and being a police officer?
Absolutely! You want to use the right tools for the job at hand. You deal with people and human nature. Both can be very rewarding, and sometimes a nightmare. You need to know your equipment and be proficient with it. You need to adapt, improvise, and overcome obstacles to achieve your goals and accomplish your mission. Keep an open mind. You need to practice, train, and keep up on the latest trends and equipment. In both photography and law enforcement “common sense” is one of your best friends. I’ve been a police officer for 30 years now. I’m hoping to go just as long in photography.
To contact photographer Frank Steiger call 239-776-5872, or visit his Facebook page Frank Steiger Photography. To see Frank in front of the camera, see page B26.