A Life Behind The Lens
“This photograph captures an uncommon grasp by an anole (lizard) on the nose of a rattlesnake.  One of the first shots taken when Hoyt moved to South Texas in 2000 and when “autofocus” was a brand new concept, she stumbled upon this scene, flattened to a prone position, and then manually focused on the eyes of her subjects.”  A signature photo, it is used on most of Hoyt’s promotion materials and at www.ruthhoyt.com
Wildlife photographer will give presentation at South Texas Farm & Ranch Show

October 09, 2008

By Beth Ellis,
Victoria County Master Gardener, Intern

Edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
“A 1st place competition photo taken on the Fennessey Ranch in Refugio County in 2007, this wildflower shot was captured on an uncommonly still early morning with a 300mm image-stabilized telephoto lens with minimal depth of field, and at a very low angle, to ensure that only a few of the flowers would be in focus with a background of nothing but soft colors.”
“I am passionate about sharing the natural world with others.  Each person I help, helps spread the word of conservation and taking care of our world.”  Ruth Hoyt, Naturalist and Photographer

As far as Ruth Hoyt is concerned, there’s nothing better than being outside on a quiet dewy morning, greeting the fresh new day with camera, close-up lens and tripod in hand.  On the hunt for the perfect shot, she knows that each new outing brings the chance of capturing a unique natural drama – whether it be the peaceful reflection of a long legged bird standing in a quiet pool, or the desperate life and death struggle between predator and prey.   Whatever the drama, she’s ready for it.
Nature, Photography, and Education

Although photography did not initially play a part in this well known photographer’s life until the late 1980’s, her emphasis in the artistic endeavors of music education, communications, and fine arts paved the way to a life behind the lens.  Hoyt’s career took a turn toward the natural world when she purchased her first camera.
“Ruth Hoyt is captured through lens by her partner and teammate, John Pickles, during the Coastal Bend's 2007 wildlife photo contest. While photographing wildflowers from ground level and unaware that she was being watched,  her name was called, she sat up and looked right into the camera lens.”
“I was always interested in nature but didn’t get exposed to it as much as I would have liked.  Photography officially entered my life in 1989 when I bought my first camera.  I took a basic 35mm photo class and the rest is history”. 

Hoyt’s passion for the natural world is quickly followed by her love of teaching people about nature through photography.  “Educating people on the delicacy of the natural world is my mantra.  The youth of this world are the future caretakers, and it is important to get them involved at an early age”. In order to accomplish this aim, Hoyt provides numerous learning opportunities in the form of classes, workshops, and tours for novice, intermediate, and advanced photographers.  She utilizes both public and private lands as the setting for these opportunities, and ultimately, land access provides the underpinnings of Hoyt’s mission to educate people about the delicacy of the planet.  “There are so many people out there who do negative things out of ignorance.  All that needs to be done is share the information in a way that teaches without passing judgment.  When I am not teaching, I feel like I am running out of time to accomplish this”. 
Hoyt in Action

Each year, Hoyt conducts a combination of photo classes, workshops, and tours across the Rio Grande Valley.  Classes take place over the course of four weeks and typically include technical aspects of photography, special subject interests, and creative techniques. Field trips to public and private property give students the opportunity to practice what they have learned in the classroom. 
Workshops provide a more in depth and condensed student experience, and are one of Hoyt’s favorite methods of teaching her students an appreciation of nature as well as technical aspects of camera usage.  Workshops take place on public lands and private property at locations across the United States, with a particular emphasis on South Texas and Mexico. 
Guided photo tours are yet another of Hoyt’s popular offerings, with favorite destinations including various locations in the United States as well as Mexico and South Africa.  Upcoming venues include a four-day fall foliage tour in the Arkansas Ozarks, and a five-day tour to Guanajuato, Mexico. 


Hoyt has exhibited her work in a number of locations, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and the St. Louis Artist’s Guild.  Photo credits include publications such as National Geographic, the Nature Conservancy, and Texas Monthly. Her work appeared in the companion book of the acclaimed PBS documentary Last Stand of the Tall Grass Prairie, and she is one of three photographers whose work is complied in the book Missouri, Simply Beautiful.

A New Way of Generating Revenue for Landowners

So why am I so hyped up about a photographer and her achievements?   Well, first it is because of the educational and conservational value this photographer projects involving nature in our South Texas environment.  We as Master Gardeners also see the value in educating our fellow man about learning more about our environment - and what better way than through nature and photography!  And if we play our cards right, not only can we learn about our environment but we also can gain great pleasure seeing nature in action - and possibly even gain some financial rewards.

Hoyt’s career illustrates the benefits to landowners through partnerships with ecotourism activities such as nature photography. These types of opportunities are quickly becoming a viable means of increasing revenue for landowners, and area residents can learn more about this method of generating business by attending Hoyt’s presentation at the upcoming South Texas Farm and Ranch Show in Victoria.  Entitled “Creating Farm and Ranch Photo Opportunities”, the session will run from 3:00 to 5:00 PM on Wednesday, October 22 at the Victoria Community Center Annex, 2905 E. North Street. Hoyt’s presentation will examine the pleasures, profits, and knowledge to be found in developing ecotourism programs and it will assist landowners in understanding how to incorporate these exciting new opportunities into their existing businesses.

Landowners are not the only ones who will benefit from attending this presentation - photographers and others interested in nature and tourism opportunities will also want to attend because of the tips and tricks Hoyt will impart.  Whether landowner, photographer, birder, or all around nature maven, all attendees will reap enjoyable benefits from the knowledge and networking opportunities that the session will provide.
“Hoyt often places various props for birds and other wildlife to use outside her photo studio area.  She describes this female Northern Cardinal as curious about the "giant eye" (lens) watching her from a below-ground photo blind. The cardinal’s interest in Hoyt was waned when the sunflower seeds set out for her were discovered.”
For more information on Ruth Hoyt's photographic work and the educational opportunities visit:


Who – Ruth Hoyt
Naturalist and Photographer
Linn, TX

What -  “Creating Farm and Ranch Photo Opportunities”
Nature and Photography Educational Program
Free to the public

When –Wednesday, October 22, 2008
3 – 5 p.m.

Where- South Texas Farm & Ranch Show
2905 E. North Street