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He Quit His Job to Become a Photographer

He Quit His Job to Become a Photographer

As a lawyer, your goal is to win by beating somebody else up. In nature photography we don’t have any grudges. You know, we don’t have an ax to grind. Flowers and birds don’t call me disgusting names. My name is Richard Turner, and I’m a nature photographer. When I was 5 years old, my parents put me on a soapbox and said, “You’re gonna be a lawyer someday.” And I went to Boalt Hall at the University of California Berkeley and passed the bar. I worked for the attorney general’s office for six years as a prosecutor. Then, out of the sky, came this offer to be Reagan’s lawyer. I told him, “I didn’t vote for you.” And he said, “I’m not hiring you to be a political guy. “You’re my lawyer. Now get to work.” I was a lawyer for 42 years. I used to wake up with the notion of who’s gonna beat me up today? Who am I gonna beat up? Whose life can I ruin on behalf of my clients? [♫♪ Music ♪♫] One morning I woke up and told my wife, “I’ll be back in a month.” I got in my car and drove east. I ended up in Montana. And I was sitting by this stream one day, and I found peace sitting there looking across this beautiful meadow. I just had this voice that said to me, “There’s something going on out there and you’re missing it.” So I made the decision right then and there, I was gonna leave law practice. And I just wanted to do something different with my life. It ended up being photography. I took some pictures with a consumer camera. I didn’t know anything about photography. I just point, shoot and click the button. And I brought them back to a really good friend of mine, and he said, “Richard, these pictures are terrible. You’ve got little moose, big pond.” He said, “What you need is, big moose, little pond.” So that was my first lesson in composition, and that just triggered me for some reason. I just decided, “Hey, I’m gonna learn how to do this.” Almost every photo that you see in this house, I took. Sometimes I put stories next to my photos so that people can understand why I took the picture, where I was, what was going on when I took the picture. In fact, that was the genesis of my book. This is my book: “I Can’t Always See My Path… But I Keep on Walking.” It’s a collaboration of my images and my poetry. And people really like the book. I have hundreds of testimonials from people who have been affected positively by the book. So it’s been a — just a wonderful experience for me. After a year or so of doing photography, I decided I would put some of it on greeting cards, because that just sounded like a good way to share my work. As of yesterday, I have sold 54,283 greeting cards, all of which I have made myself. Putting the work into a new skill can be threatening because you’re not sure how it’s gonna work out. You don’t want to have wasted your time. I practiced law for 40 years and never used a computer. For me now to use a computer in my photography work is pretty challenging, but I’m doing it and I’m learning it. People say, “You’re almost 80 and you’re going around doing all this photography stuff?” Well, yeah. I don’t feel any different at 80 than I felt when I was 20. I think being older is great. I’m having fun. Every day’s a new adventure, and you never know what’s gonna happen.

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