Owen Deutsch wasn’t planning to get back into photography. He’d been a busy fashion photographer from the 1960s to the ‘80s. After that he became a real estate developer and barely picked up a camera – until 2002.
“A friend of mine who’s a birder asked me to look at his pictures,” he remembers. “And they were so-so. But the birds were magnificent!”
Deutsch began photographing birds himself. In 15 years, he has traveled the world and photographed more than 2,000 species.
He’s no bird expert, he admits. “I love beauty. I love nature. And I love being outside.”
“And I’ll tell you something,” he confides, “my heart gets a little fluttery every time I get a good shot.”
And after years in the high-pressure world of real estate, he says birds are the perfect antidote, like his recent trip to Panama. “I went down there for eight days, with nothing on my mind.”
While Deutsch has traveled the world, one of his most spectacular – and controversial – photos was taken closer to home. He was photographing bald eagles on Fox Lake when a great blue heron ventured too close to the eagle nest. In the ensuing chase, Deutsch got a shot that the judges of an Audubon Society contest thought must have been doctored in Photoshop – and they said so on their website.
“And it looked Photoshopped,” Deutsch acknowledged, “ the background was just sky.” But he was able to prove to the judges that it was not altered, and Audubon issued an apology.
This new chapter in Deutsch’s life includes a twist: In 2012, he married a childhood friend – another photographer named Rona Talcott. Her subjects these days are large mammals.
Note: This story first aired on “Chicago Tonight” on March 15, 2017.
May 1: An update to our March story about bald eagles returning to Cook County.
March 23: In the early 1960s, bald eagles were nearly extinct in the lower 48 states. But government protections and conservation measures have had a huge impact on their numbers. “I think it’s an incredible success story,” said biologist Chris Anchor.
Jan. 19: Why are there so many long-eared owls showing up in Chicago this winter? Bird watchers call it an “irruption.”