Born and raised on Long Island (New York), Chris Paparo has been exploring the wilds of the Island for over 35 years. As the owner of Fish Guy Photos, he is a wildlife photographer, writer and lecturer who enjoys bringing public awareness to the diverse wildlife that calls the island home. His passion for coastal ecology, fishing and the outdoors led him to obtain a BS in Marine Science from LIU/Southampton and he currently manages the Marine Sciences Center at the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University.
An award-winning member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association, he is a freelance writer for several fishing and wildlife-related publications. Although his work tends to focus on marine life, everything in the natural world is fair game.
Follow Paparo’s adventures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube and TikTok at @fishguyphotos or by visiting his website at www.fishguyphotos.com
What are your areas of Outdoor Communication?
These days, I find myself lecturing way more than writing. Local libraries make up a bulk of my business, but fishing clubs, birding clubs, gardening clubs, and most importantly breweries, round out the other locations. I find lecturing to be extremely rewarding as I am able to interreact with my audience in real-time. As for my style, I prefer being a story teller rather than a scientist. Even though I have a BS in Marine Science, I leave the science at the university. People relate far more to pictures, videos, and personal experiences than they do to charts, graphs and statistics. And with all the environmental problems facing this planet, it is more important than ever that the public has a better understanding of the natural world around us.
What drew you to the field?
I was six years old, my dad took me fishing for the first time and I have been hooked on marine science and the outdoors ever since.
What enticed you to join OWAA?
As a member of the New York State Outdoor Writers Association, I met a lot of like-minded people who were eager to share their experiences with me. As a newcomer to the outdoor communicator world, this exposure was extremely valuable. I later joined OWAA to further expand my knowledge and grow my network.
What is your favorite outdoor activity and how did you get into it?
SCUBA diving is by far my favorite outdoor activity. As a kid, I always dreamed about what lived under my favorite fishing pier. I would draw images of what I thought was down there (I had quite the imagination), but it was not until I was 17 years old and I got SCUBA certified that I could see it with my very own eyes. Since a very young age, I always knew I wanted to be a marine biologist, but that first dive really sealed the deal.
What are you currently working on?
As I write this, I am packing for a trip to the Solomon Islands, Uepi Island to be exact. In 1999, I took Tropical Marine Biology as a winter session class and two of the four weeks were spent on this small coral outcropping. The experience was amazing and I always said I would make it back to that island one day. Well, 24 years later the professor who taught the class has organized a “reunion” trip and sixteen of us are heading back to Uepi! (Oh and I forgot to mention, I met my wife of 20 years on this trip. She was also a student, but we had not met prior to this class).
What have you gained from the organization?
I have gained many valuable connections that have helped me to continue to grow as a professional.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking of joining OWAA?
Just do it! Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned veteran, we all stand to learn something new. Additionally, you never know who you might meet and where that connection might take you.
Follow Fish Guy Photos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo and TikTok at @fishguyphotos
Are you an outdoor communicator looking to connect with others in your field and improve your craft?