Photo compliments of my Mom and Dad

Photo compliments of my Mom and Dad

Photo compliments of  Frederick Van Johnson

Photo compliments of Frederick Van Johnson

How it began

I was visited by an American Robin when I was four years old. That experience may have set the course for my life.

One Saturday morning, while waiting to go with my Dad to get free sand for our sandbox, I sat in the back of our family station wagon parked in the driveway. The robin flew in, landed on the tailgate, and curiously looked at me. The bird then hopped up on my lower leg and continued its way up until it reached my small hands, where the robin settled in comfortably. A few minutes later my Dad came out and saw his four year old son holding this wild bird and went back in for Mom and the camera. After 10 minutes or so the bird was ready to go, but it left a lifetime of impression on me.

Eventually, I grew up and earned my B.S. in Ecology at the University of Illinois, taught environmental education for nine years in Texas and Michigan, earned my Masters degree in Secondary Education, and taught middle school science and math in the classroom for 8 years in Arizona. Starting out as an avid birder in the USA, I have been to 47 states and explored many great places in our country. I have seen 665 species of birds in North America. While I truly enjoy birding, I have evolved into more of a bird photographer and find that I witness and learn more by watching birds through my lens. Combining my teaching skills as a professional educator and my passion for bird photography, I am following my dream to be a full-time professional photographer and photography instructor.

I hope my images are messages from the natural world, encouraging you to get out there and explore, and to celebrate and protect this amazing planet we call home.

Thank you for stopping by to visit my website. If you would like to see my most recent adventures, be sure to visit the blog. If you are interested in joining me on a photo adventure, please visit my Photo Tours page and feel free to contact me any time.

See you out there,


“Morning Breath” copyright Bryan Holliday

“Morning Breath” copyright Bryan Holliday

The Blackbird

While teaching a group of 5th graders down at the local wetland, a male red-winged blackbird began singing nearby. He had just returned for the spring to his territory. It was cold enough that we could see his breath! I thought it could be a great photo if I could capture this. So I returned the next morning and tried. And I returned again. And again. I ended up trying to photograph this male singing in the cold over the next three years, whenever the conditions were just right, before the magical moment happened. On this particular morning, I almost didn’t go. When I walked out the door into the darkness, it was not cold enough. I almost went back to bed. But something told me to give it another try, that I never regret going. So I went. And the greatest single moment of my photographic history happened. Not only did I capture the bird singing in the cold, but his whole song is visible in his breath! It is a once-in-a-lifetime image and a lesson in persistence. The whole story was featured in Bird Watcher’s Digest magazine and told by me and Julie Zickefoose. You can listen to the story here.

The blackbird image is titled “Morning Breath” and is my award-winning photograph, honored by National Wildlife Federation. It is available for purchase on the Shop page, here on my website.

Awards & Honors

First Prize | National Wildlife Federation Photo Contest 2008 | “Morning Breath”

Finalist | Emerging Photographer of the Year 2009

Featured Artist | Wings Over Willcox Bird Festival 2018

Published Work

Illinois Audubon Magazine

National Wildlife Magazine

National Geographic | Bird Coloration

Vermilion Flycatcher | Tucson Audubon Society

Go Magazine | Rockford Register Star

Winged Journey | Calendar of Birds

Bird Watcher’s Digest

Arizona Game and Fish Department Calendar

Professional Membership

NANPA | North America Nature Photographers Association

NPS | Nikon Professional Services

CPS | Canon Professional Services