Wink Gaines

A selection of Gaines' photographs were on display at HMA between September 26, 2015 and January 10, 2016.

Frances "Wink" Gaines specializes in bird and wildlife photography. Her photographic specialty allows her to combine her passion for the outdoors with the creative pursuit of digitally capturing wildlife in natural habitats.

A self-taught naturalist, Gaines strives to understand the ecological association of animals and habitat. She understands the need to conserve vital habitation for wetland birds and the diverse wildlife found near her home in Western North Carolina and her favorite coastal habitats near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Gaines is an advocate for the instructional and conservation efforts of the National Audubon Society and various North Carolina and South Carolina national wildlife refuges where many of her photographs are taken. The National Audubon Society in its Audubon Magazine recognized one of her bird photographs as among the year's Top 100 in both 2011 and 2012. She has been honored in other photography competitions as well, including by the Catawba Valley Camera Club.

Gaines, who grew up in Hickory and earned degrees from Lenoir-Rhyne College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Master's Degree in British Literature with a minor in Journalism), learned the basics of photography as editor of The Valdese News and features editor of The News Herald in Morganton in the late 1970s. “Of everything I did at the newspapers — and back then we did it all — I liked photography best."

After three decades of devoting herself to being a wife, mother and community volunteer, Gaines again picked up a camera professionally. Her images now are printed on coated aluminum sheets, utilizing a specialized process developed by a North Carolina entrepreneur. Gaines said the technique allows for a distinctive, high-definition look for each image.(Hickory Daily Record article posted Monday, February 24, 2014)

Gaines and her husband, Dennis, live near Hickory with two Welsh Corgi kids and an Australian Shepherd. They have two grown sons and a beloved daughter-in-law. (From the About page on Gaines' web site.)

"Why did I choose to focus my work on birds and other wildlife?  I have always found peace and solace in the outdoors and in nature. Wildlife photography combines many skill sets including ruggedness, patience, knowledge of the subject, knowledge of your camera, composition and noting the way light does its magic within your preconceived image. It’s like painting with a camera! Birds and all forms of wildlife are very important parts of the canvas of the natural world. Every time I view my subjects through the lens, I am amazed by their life force and their ability to live to the fullest in whatever environment they inhabit. Observing birds and wildlife gives me back some of the wonder and peace I have lost on the road to adulthood!"  (Interview with Gaines by Alexa Boschini in Home Accents Today, August 10, 2015)

Gaines is also on Facebook where she posts some of her bird photographs from time to time.

Post by Karin Borei, HMA Project Coordinator, writer and editor as needed, and HMA blogger since our blog's inception in March 2015.