Best Shooters: John Hafner

John Hafner was by no means a child prodigy when it came to outdoor photography. As a kid he filled up a scrapbook of hunting photos with heads cut out of the frames. He called it his "scrapbook of shame." John Hafner photo
In fact, it wasn't until his senior year of college that Hafner began to take photography seriously. He took one black and white photography class at Penn State and eventually enrolled in grad school for photo journalism in Missoula, Montana.
It didn't take long for him to fall in love with photography and get swept away by the western lifestyle.
As a kid growing up in Pennsylvania Hafner was obsessed with turkey hunting, so for his masters thesis project he naturally picked the subject of wild turkeys being transplanted in Montana. "I was the one redneck in the group who did a political piece on turkeys," he says.
Once he finished school Hafner landed a job working in public relations with Realtree in Georgia. Through that job he was able to meet many pro photographers and learn the tricks of the trade. He went on to work for Hoyt and now at age 35 he's a full-time freelance shooter back out West. The jumping around was worth it for Hafner and somehow even he managed to stay married through the process. "It takes a supportive spouse to do this," He says.
His job has taken him all across the Lower 48 as well as Africa and Alaska. He's covered hunts for deer, elk, moose, turkeys, ducks and much more. "I get to shoot hunting photos for a living," Hafner says. "I'm really blessed to be able to do this … it's a dream come true."
But the job of an outdoor photographer calls for more than just tagging along on hunting trips. On any given hunt Hafner will bring five different lenses and up to three different flashes. He'll climb trees and rocks, and lay in the mud and snow just to get the right shot. "For every step the hunter takes I take 10," Hafner says. "I'm pretty notorious for saying 'just one more' which means another 300 frames."
At the end of the day, Hafner works as hard as he can to portray hunting in the best light possible. "I don't care if people know my name, but I want my work to really impact this industry," he says.
See more of John Hafner's work here and got to his website at: johnhafnerphoto.com