Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

A Wild Life: For photographer Shannon Rose O’Shea, a post-retirement hobby blossomed into a second career.

Screenshot 2014-03-30 11.08.14Anyone who sees the photo of the green heron, captured so vividly by wildlife photographer Shannon Rose O’Shea, can’t help but notice that the bird is straining to grab something that is out of reach.

But for O’Shea, a native of Steelton who now resides in Susquehanna Township, that photo represents her mantra that sometimes, in order to get what you want, you have to stick your neck out. And, indeed, she does and has to when she wants to capture that perfect shot.

“I’ve had so many wonderful experiences photographing wildlife,” O’Shea says. “It is both immensely rewarding and totally frustrating at the same time. I can sit for an hour waiting for that moment when a great blue heron catches a largemouth bass, only to have it happen as I turn to walk away. It certainly teaches you patience.”

And patience is needed in order for O’Shea to create these works of reality art—from an egret taking flight in Kiwanis Park in York to a majestic sunset above Coligny Beach on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. She even was able to photograph a bighorn sheep that had come down from a rocky hillside to stand in a parking lot bordered by playground equipment.

O’Shea’s interest in photography began only three short years ago, when her husband noticed her taking a picture of a tulip in her garden with a little, film-loaded Olympus camera.

“He thought I needed a grown-up camera, so he bought me a Nikon L120, a bridge camera between a point-and-shoot and an SLR,” O’Shea says.

After downloading her first photos from her “grown-up camera,” O’Shea was hooked. She quickly outgrew the Nikon and purchased her first SLR, a Canon EOS Rebel t2i, then moved up to a Canon 7D complete with assorted lenses, tripods, a loupe, filters, hoods, a backpack and other accessories she calls “the camera stuff.”

Now retired, O’Shea and her husband travel around the country not only for rest and relaxation, but also for her to take pictures of the great outdoors. While her preferred places to take photos include Hawaii, Florida (the Circle B Bar Reserve there is a particular favorite) and South Carolina, O’Shea began honing her trade right in her own backyard at Wildwood Lake in Harrisburg.

But this photography obsession has gone way beyond anything O’Shea could have imagined. Her work has appeared on websites all over the world, such as, the Orlando City Guide, The Huffington Post, Pinterest, Tumblr, iWitness Weather, a Hawaiian travel site, numerous blogs and many more.

This year, one of her shots will be published in a book of lighthouses of South Carolina, and she recently received and accepted an invitation to become a Getty Images contributor photographer. One of O’Shea’s photos of an egret at Wildwood Lake is included in a youtube music video of the song “Promised Land” performed by Amy Goldstein.

O’Shea plans on continuing her travels, mostly along the east coast, taking pictures of wildlife, landscapes and architecture.

“I hope to continue improving my skills and having many opportunities for people to see and appreciate my work,” she says.

What began with a little, film-loaded Olympus camera and tulips in her garden has turned into quite a career and a sense of fulfillment. Looking through that lens has offered O’Shea an incredible appreciation for wildlife and nature, along with connections with others who share this love of photography.

“I love travelling around the country and meeting other photographers,” she says. “I’ve learned so much and met so many wonderful people from all over the world.”

You can see more work by Shannon Rose O’Shea by visiting

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