Gail Rowley is a nature photographer who lives with her husband in the rural Ozark hills of Missouri. She has been exploring the outdoors all her life, and loves to document some of natureʼs treasures with her camera, including hidden micro worlds.
Her past work and studies have been in education, social work, child development, organic gardening and ecology. She has been a long-time member of the Missouri Stream Team Program, and is currently involved in native plant restoration and stream study on her property. She owns a little business, Ozark Stream Photography, selling nature cards and custom prints.
“Since my earliest memories, I have been exploring the natural world around me. I was lucky to grow up in the ‘50s and ‘60s in the rural Chesapeake Bay estuary. I was also lucky to live where it was safe to go on long hikes with my adventurous older sisters. We discovered countless surprises while walking barefoot along streams to find tadpoles and frogs, climbing tall fir trees swaying in the wind, hiking dusty roads and wild muddy marshes, fishing for colorful yellow perch, swimming and skating and listening to the haunting calls of whistling swan as they glided in to our river inlets each autumn.
“The land and shores were filled with wonders — wild orchids and mayapples, tasty teaberry leaves, wild blueberries, turtles and fox and deer, varieties of weird-looking water plants, tiny shrimp among the seaweed, and soft-shelled crabs in the shallows to catch for lunch. When I first found hundreds of unusual, miniature crabs in the marsh, each with one large front claw and one tiny one, I became permanently fascinated with science. I began the journey of becoming a naturalist.
“We lived where the salty bay waters included gentle brackish coves, lush with plant-decorated banks. When people boated into our waters at illegally-high speeds, their wakes caused serious erosion along these beautiful banks. Over my childhood years, I witnessed this and many other changes caused by carelessness. This is when I began the journey of becoming a conservationist.
“When I was a young mother living in the rural Ozark hills, taking photos was an expensive luxury, but exploring nature with the family was utter joy. So bit by bit I learned some photography basics, and I practiced. When the digital age made photography more affordable, my world opened up. The more I looked closely at our surroundings, the more incredible ‘magic’ I discovered. I had to document these things for my family, for my grandchildren.
“I began to add lenses to expand my work, and my husband and I began to restore a small native prairie. Now I constantly discover new wonders in this little prairie and in other natural areas. I’m hopelessly in love with hiding until a bird forgets I’m there… with crawling around in tall grasses in search of tiny worlds… with seeing deer’s eyes shining through prairie grasses in the night… and looking up at the endless mysteries of the Milky Way. I try to capture photos, only to find that I am captured by this awesomeness called Nature.”