January 21, 2020

Photography is filled with all types of people and as technology advances and the related costs drop, more young people than ever have the opportunity to explore the art of photography. We've been following the work of Pennsylvania-based young photographer Sam Swartley for a while now and he was kind enough to give us a glimpse into his photography world. Read below to see what it's like to be a young photographer breaking into the scene. 

1.Tell us a bit about your background. Where you live, how old you are, your interests, etc.

I live in a small town called Telford, Pennsylvania right outside of Philadelphia. I am twenty years old, I currently work at a coffee shop right in town but I hope to find something that involves Wildlife or the outdoors, in due time. Over the summer my fiancé and I bought a tiny house to fix up so lately I have become very interested in woodworking and being more creative hands-on, which has been very enjoyable! Of course, I love hiking and just being outside haha that kinda comes with the wildlife photography hobby.

Close up photo of a fox curled up fox

2. How did you get interested in photography and more specifically, wildlife photography?

I have always been into the arts as a kid but I couldn’t find what specifically I was good at until I was around 16 or so and I started just taking of pictures of mainly trees, trains and whatever else looked interning with my iPhone but I didn’t get into wildlife photography until a year later when I went out hiking with my dad and grandfather who were very passionate about birds and wildlife, and we came across a squirrel who was in a beautiful setting of the changing leaves, so I grabbed my very beginner camera and snapped a picture and instantly was hooked! I haven’t stopped learning and immersing myself in the world of animals and photography since then.

3. What are some of the challenges you face being a younger photographer breaking into the scene? 

When you first start out it can really be challenging to know where to find wildlife/the times to see them, that took me a few months to get in a routine of where to look and what times of the day. Also, travelling can be hard, whether it's the funds to support the travels or just being inexperienced with travel, It can be tough to plan a trip alone. I think another issue I had was that young people don’t always have the best reputation and with that, it was hard to earn the respect of the older, more experienced photographers. I learned to be persistent and focus on relationships and not my reputation. 

Wildlife photo of a bird on a stick

4. What are your photography goals for the next 5 years?

I plan to hopefully travel a lot more, see the world a little more other than my home state. I would love to use my photography to do something more, maybe help in wildlife conservation with my photography, or help inspire people to get involved with conservation. I do art shows currently and sell my photography there but I would like to do that a whole lot more to build that up. My top goal would be to work for wildlife/nature publisher, I’m very passionate about what I do and would love to do it for a job, we shall see.

Bird in the snow

5. What photographers do you look up to? 

I really look up to Harry Collins, he is a Pennsylvanian photographer as well. His photography is outstanding! As well as Isaac Spotts, he is another young photographer that I admire, his mammal shots are very captivating and make me want to visit Wyoming even more!

7. What tips would you give to someone interested in shooting wildlife photography?

When people think of wildlife photography they usually think of the big stuff, elk, owls, moose, wolves, eagles, etc. And while that stuff is amazing, it's not as obtainable as you’d think, I would highly recommend starting with what's right in your backyard or local park.

Learn about different light and angles and how you can work with those to get the best shot! Don’t underestimate the value of practicing, always be shooting even if it's not wildlife, in fact, try other forms of photography they will help broaden your skills and knowledge.

Connect with other photographers too, its always nice having friends into the same hobby as yours, I would be lost without the friends I have made who have given me great advice that has changed how I think about photography.  

Bird in the snow

8. Wildlife photography requires a great deal of patience. What tips do you use to stay warm while shooting wildlife photography in winter? 

It sounds very odd but once the weather starts to get colder I try as much as possible to not use the heater in my car on my way to locations so that my body doesn’t get used to the heat. That way when I get out my body temperature isn’t all out of sorts from going from hot to cold.

Keeping your hands warm is also one of the key things to staying warm if they get wet its a game over so keeping them dry and warm is a priority, I love my Vallerret Markhof Pro Model 2.0. especially when I put a hand warmer in the zip-able pocket on the back of the gloves, they where a lifesaver last winter and I’m positive they will be this year! 

9. What’s your favorite animal you’ve photographed so far?

I have two favorites the first being the Red Fox, I love how they can be right in your backyard but you would never know because of how sly they are! and their coat is just beautiful, even more so in the winter when it gets so thick and fluffy. I hope to find some during the winter this year, its a dream shot of mine to have a fox in the falling snow!

The second is Mountain Goats, they are such insane animals to watch! At first glance they just look like basic goats that you might see on a farm or petting zoo but as you get to watch them you really gain respect for them as they scale huge boulders over certain death if they just took one wrong step! I would love to spend more time with them next summer as well.

Mountain goat on a hill

10. What destinations are on the top of your list to visit for wildlife photography?

My top spot would have to be Yellowstone National Park during the Fall/Winter, North American Wildlife is my favorite and Yellowstone offers almost all of it! I also love the element that snow brings to my photography, its become my favorite season to shoot in! I would also love to visit Iceland, and Alaska someday as well!

About the Photographer:
Sam Swartley is a 20-year-old photographer from Telford Pennsylvania. Wildlife is his passion and he strives to show people the value of conservation through photography. You can find his work on Instagram 

Wildlife Young Photographer Sam Swartley

If you liked this post, you’ll love these too!

Winter is no joke! Keep warm and shop our range of Vallerret Photography Gloves.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Vallerret Articles

Winter Camping Tips for Photogrpahers
Winter Camping Tips for Photogrpahers

January 21, 2021

Camping in the winter is a magical experience. Nothing but you and the snow capped peaks waiting to be photographed in the soft winter light. Winter provides some of the most scenic images but to capture these shots, you have to be prepared. Here are our best tips for camping in the winter as a photographer!
Read More
Understanding Focal Length for Winter Photography
Understanding Focal Length for Winter Photography

January 14, 2021

Focal lengths. What are they? Why are the important? And how you you know which focal length you need? We deep dive into the world of focal lengths to help new photographers understand what focal lengths they should be using for their photography.
Read More
The Science Behind a Photographer's Cold Fingers
The Science Behind a Photographer's Cold Fingers

January 08, 2021 2 Comments

We’ve all been there: waiting for the perfect shot in freezing temps as bitterly cold wind whips through the mountains. The drill is always the same: hop up and down, jog in place, blow warm air down your glove in hopes of bringing some feeling back to your poor, weathered fingertips. We all know what happens but do you know why it happens?
Read More
Make Winter Cold Again: Our Annual Donations are on Their Way!
Make Winter Cold Again: Our Annual Donations are on Their Way!

December 18, 2020

We did it! We made it through 2020 and we're nearing the end of the this complex, frustrating and wildly strange year. As we say goodbye to 2020, we look back at how Mother Nature has fared this year as well as shining a light on some of the awesome organizations we're donating to through our commitment with 1% for the Planet.
Read More
Help With Sizing


  1. Measure around the widest part of your hand with a relaxed open palm.
  2. Measure from base of hand to the tip of the middle finger.

PEASE NOTE:  We design our gloves to be snug for best camera feel possible. This sizing chart reflects snuggly fitted gloves.

    Unisex Size Guide XS S M L XL XXL
    Hand Girth cm  18 - 20  20 - 21 21 - 22 22 - 23 23 - 25 25-28
    inch  7.1 - 7.9   7.9 - 8.3  8.3 - 8.7 8.7 - 9.1 9.1 - 9.8 9.8-11.0
    Hand Length cm  16.0 - 17.5  17.5 - 18.5 18.0 - 19.0 19.0 - 20.0 20.5 - 22.0 22-24.0
    inch  6.3 - 6.9 6.9 - 7.2 7.1 - 7.5 7.5 - 7.9 8.1 - 8.7 8.7-9.4
     EU Size Equivalent  EU 7.5  EU 8 EU 8.5 EU 9 EU 10 EU 11
     Unisex Glove Models: Markhof Pro 2.0 | Skadi Zipper Mitt | Ipsoot | Alta Over-Mitt | Merino Liner Touch | Primaloft/Merino Liner | Urbex | Powerstretch Pro Liners
    Female Size Guide* XS S M L XL
    Hand Girth cm 16.0 - 17.5 17.5 - 18.8 18.5 - 20.0 20.0 - 21.5 -
    inch  6.3 - 6.9 6.9 - 7.4 7.2 - 7.9 7.9 - 8.5 -
    Hand Length cm 15.5 - 16.5 16.3 - 17.2  17.0 - 18.5 19.0 - 20.0 -
    inch  6.1 - 6.5 6.4 - 6.8 6.7 - 7.3 7.5 - 7.9 -
     EU Size Equivalent  EU 6  EU 7 EU 8 EU 9 -
    *This size guide is specific only to W's Nordic Photography Glove


    Please note, our gloves are designed to fit snuggly to give you the best camera feel without compromising on warmth. If you prefer a looser fit, please consider to go a size up.

    As we learn more and more about gloves we also learn that all hands are different. Some people have long skinny fingers and slim wrists, others have wide hands with short fingers.

    Our gloves wont fit all even with the right measurements from the sizing chart – but we try!


    What size should I get if I'm between sizes?

    For many, the best option will be to go up a size if your measurements are in between sizes.

    If you are between sizes or if your hands do not fit into the measurements on our sizing chart, we recommend prioritizing the fit for the girth measurement. The girth is the most important measurement and if the girth size on the glove is too small, you won't be able to fit the glove.


    Should I size up for my liner glove?

    If you’re considering pairing a liner glove with your photography gloves, we recommend choosing the same size liner as photography glove. We designed our liners to be thin and fit inside of our photography gloves so we recommend your normal size in liners. There are two exceptions to this:

    Exception #1: If you are at the very end of the ratio size in the sizing chart, e.g. 1 mm from being a size Large, then we advise going up a glove size if you plan to often wear the liner with the gloves. 

    Exception #2: If your personal preference is to wear fairly loose gloves, then you should also go up a size when adding a liner. We don't recommend this as you will compromise dexterity with loose gloves and our priority is best possible camera feel. But you know best what you like!

    House tip: Make sure to choose a liner size that is snug/tight on your hand for the best Fliptech performance when wearing liners and gloves together.