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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 3 years ago

Wildlife wonderer

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Marc Harris intimately explores the far reaches of Florida's Everglades. What he photographs is so impressive, some deny that it is even real.
by: Alicia Ceccarelli Contributing Writer

Executive: Marc Harris, CEO of Marcali Yacht Brokerage and Consulting LLC, a yacht brokerage. Harris has transitioned from servicing vessels as a teen to becoming a licensed captain and brokering yachts for a living. After decades of experience in the maritime industry, Harris created Marcali in 2006.

Diversion: Photography. Harris documents native Floridian wildlife and landscapes. The demand for his work started by word-of-mouth through friends, but now draws clients from all over (Spain, Germany, South America, to name a few spots) due to its rich detail and authenticity. Harris only films in the wild. The self-taught nature-lover enjoys engaging through social media and website (marcharriswildlife.com.) and says he wishes he “had started the public side a long time ago.”

Early riser: Growing up outside Chattanooga, Tenn., Harris developed a fondness of the outdoors through hiking and fishing with his father and grandfather. As a teen, Harris experienced nature daily by taking the scenic, wooded route to school. Yet, he says his instincts have deeper roots. “Somehow the connection to outdoors and nature came before then ... It came from somewhere long before me ... I've had a really uncanny ability to do this my entire life.”

Close up: Harris opened his gallery in downtown Fort Myers in March so clients could appreciate the high definition that distinguishes his photography. Prints display on a variety of mediums, from watercolor paper to canvas and metal. His photography is also available in tile for grand-scale mosaics. Harris's beach landscape “Sundowner” takes up the entire length of a Miami client's bathroom shower wall.

Packing and prepping: Harris uses the phrase “chance meets preparation,” when taking pictures. Typically, he carries two digital cameras, spare batteries, bird calls, a face mask to protect against mosquitoes, a poncho, a first-aid kit and plenty of water and snacks to last through an unplanned overnighter.

“I'm always camped up,” says Harris, who prefers to venture far out where nature is undisturbed by others. It is also crucial to know the habits, behavior and posturing of the wildlife he is filming, along with weather patterns, and the exact minute the sun will set.

His vision: Harris explains the key to his talent lies in his “ability to see the shot in my mind's eye before I take it.” Harris never lures his subjects to manipulate his images. “I try to fit in to my surroundings and let it happen.” His success depends on the animals remaining unaware he is observing. Another prerequisite of his vision: “I'm nuts about light,” Harris raves. “The Everglades are like an ever-changing light show all day long, wherever you go.” The result of his signature work is so vivid that some admirers suspect he has used Photoshop to drop in color.

Waiting and wading: It's not uncommon, says Harris, to spend hours waiting “for that one split second on this planet” when all the elements — haze, wind, light-refraction and cloud coverage — align. “It has to all come together, otherwise, I just won't take the image,” says Harris. Some of his most prized work took roughly two-and-a-half months to capture the way he intended. He has no issue wading up to his neck in murky waters if it means getting that close-up of “mama otter” and her pups. Harris admits his work requires significantly more patience than fishing. “It's so rewarding when it happens though.”

Concern for conservation: Harris says he strives to evoke environmental awareness through his art. Capturing the personality of the animals is key to creating an emotional connection, says Harris. When his work brings admirers to tears, “that's as good as it gets.” He hopes these impassioned responses will elicit more participation in protecting the ecosystem. “If everybody does one little thing for conservation, it becomes one huge movement,” he says.

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