Most 12 year olds these days are taking “selfies” with their cellphone to post to Facebook or Instagram.
Tommy Cullen, of Loyalsock Township, doesn’t have a cellphone and isn’t interested in taking selfies. Instead he sits patiently in his backyard, waiting for as long it takes to get a picture of a hummingbird with a professional-level camera and lens.
“I use a Canon 6D with a Sigma 70-200 millimeter lens,” Cullen said.
Cullen, who will be an eigth-grader at Loyalsock Township Middle School this fall, has been working on his photography skills since he was very young.
“I started when I was 8 … I got more into it these last few years,” Cullen said. “Mom got a camera to get a picture of me playing football, and there was all this wildlife around the house so I decided to get pictures of it to share with people.”
Cullen focuses his budding photography skills on capturing images of wildlife, specifically birds of prey.
“I like hawks and eagles. They’re challenging to capture in a photo,” Cullen said.
Tommy learns photography skills from his mother, Bronwin. Bron worked for her father’s newspaper as a photographer, so she passes on what she knows to her son.
Cullen’s love of wildlife photography branches from his experience as an outdoorsman. In addition to loving wildlife photography, Cullen is an avid hunter and angler.
“He goes hunting every year with his dad (Tom) and then he writes a story about the hunt,” Bron said.
Cullen’s reputation as a photographer has grown so that now he has a network of neighbors established to help him find wildlife.
“Neighbors will call Tommy if they see an animal out, especially the bear,” Bron said.
Although photography is just a hobby for Cullen who hopes to one day be a biologist, he still wants to improve.
“I want to take courses to help me understand some of the settings better,” Cullen said.
This was a big year for Cullen, as he entered three photos he took into a calendar photo contest. This was the first contest for the young photographer but certainly not the last.
Summer is a busy time with hummingbirds, rabbits and songbirds visiting the family’s backyard, but it isn’t Cullen’s favorite season.
“I like the fall and the spring. In the spring, the fawns are being born, and the fall is a prettier time with the leaves,” Cullen said. “It makes for a nice background.”