The work of Jan Ferris, a freelance nature writer and photographer from Buchanan, is on display in the Niles District Library's Drew Gallery until Feb. 22. (Daily Star Photo/AARON MUELLER)
The work of Jan Ferris, a freelance nature writer and photographer from Buchanan, is on display in the Niles District Library's Drew Gallery until Feb. 22. (Daily Star Photo/AARON MUELLER)

Archived Story

Call of the wild: Area photographer started her career in unique way

Published 10:48am Tuesday, January 12, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

Sometimes one’s calling in life comes in a quiet whisper. Other times it comes with an obnoxious yell. Still other times it takes an animal attacking you to wake you up to your calling.

Or at least that’s the case for Jan Ferris, a freelance nature writer and photographer from Buchanan, whose nature photos are featured in the Niles District Library’s Drew Gallery in January and February.

Ferris said her big break in the freelancing writing and photography business took place when a moose attacked her at Isle Royale National Park.

“It was a cow who had a calf and it was hidden,” she said. “I didn’t see it. She didn’t want me there so she tried to chase me away. I got rescued by some guys in a canoe. They call themselves the ‘moose busters’ now. It was quite an experience.”

It was an experience she felt the need to document, so she wrote an article about it and sent it to a couple nature magazines.

Michigan Out of Doors magazine decided to print it and so began a 20-year career of nature writing and photography for Ferris.

“That was my big break in the writing field,” she said. “All this time I had been trying to write and be a writer and taking writing classes, and all I had to do was write about something I really enjoyed.”

Ferris has written more than 100 articles and taken dozens of photos for various outdoor publications, including Woods-n-Water News, Michigan Out of Doors, Families First Monthly, Michigan Traveler, the National Wild Turkey Federation and Backpacker Magazine, a national publication.

Ferris has always had a love for the outdoors and traveling. Her favorite location to photograph is Isle Royale, the location of many of her photos hanging in the Drew Gallery.

“It’s a wilderness island. It’s just so adventurous,” she said. “Every time I go I think anything can happen and I can see anything.  I’ve had some really great outdoor experiences there.”

Ferris doesn’t have top of the line equipment. Armed with a Canon Powershot, she captures close-ups of flowers and landscape portraits during her travels. She used to have a 35-millimeter camera with a variety of lenses, but she found them to be too cumbersome when hiking.

Ferris, who used to be a backpacking guide and instructor as well, now works full-time at Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles while still writing the occasional nature article and, of course, snapping photos.

Her photography will be on display at the Drew Gallery until Feb. 22. The pastel works of Bill Jensen will be featured from March 1-April 24.

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