For years, wildlife photographer Jim Angy would beat the sun’s arrival to head to the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Viera to meet friend and fellow photographer, the late Charlie Corbeil, a longtime volunteer at the site, columnist for Viera Voice and author of the “Viera Wetlands Birding Guide.”
The two would spend the sweet spot of the morning, with light at its most glorious, recording wild denizens of the area as they went about their daily routine. By 10 a.m., Angy was off to put in a day’s work as a respiratory therapist.
“I used to go there every time I had a chance,” Angy said.
Now retired, he continues in search of the perfect image. The Viera Wetlands appear often in his photographs, but the days when he and Corbeil would roam the area without seeing a human are long gone. The Wetlands have been discovered.
“There were no roped-off areas, no traffic pattern, no people, and it was wonderful,” Angy said.
The self-taught photographer took up the medium growing up in Satellite Beach during the 1960s, when his home was the only one on the street. The then-sparsely populated area afforded plenty of room to roam.
“I always had a fascination with nature and would go into the woods and find all these wonderful things, but my buddies wouldn’t believe me,” he said.
Photos provided proof.
For years, long after his photographer friends had transitioned to digital, Angy persisted with film.
“I thought you could never capture with digital the colors you could with film,” he said.
Eventually, he acquiesced and now depends on a professional-grade Canon digital camera outfitted with a massive 600mm lens to capture his elusive subjects.
His photos have been featured in Popular Photography, People and Reader’s Digest, among other publications, and have illustrated books and been made into postcards and calendars.
In 2004, three of Angy’s images from Pelican Island were part of the “America’s Wild Places” exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
An image of his daughter watching a giant land crab eating an M&M earned him $25,000 from the candy company and exposure in publications around the world.
He has photographed wild creatures from Alaska to Israel and from the Bahamas to the Grand Tetons.
Angy looks forward to the time the cruise ships return to Port Canaveral so he can return to his second career, leading nature tours for Island Boat Lines. In the meantime, there is plenty of wildlife to capture at Viera Wetlands or out at Kenansville, where Angy has free rein at several major pieces of land, including the former Forever Florida.
“It’s really enjoyable to be out in nature,” he said.