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Seattle Photographer Snags 'Nature’s Best Photography' Winner With 'Cheshire Cat Grin' Lemon Shark

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BELLEVUE, Washington -- Bruce Yates is an investment manager by day, but spends his spare time as an avid nature photographer. Originally from Boise, Idaho, he settled in Bellevue, WA, where he founded the investment firm Appropriate Balance Financial Services, Inc. 24 years ago. His passion for nature photography, however, has led him to many remote parts of the world, from the Arctic Circle to the coral reefs of Indonesia.

One of Mr. Yates' photos, a "Cheshire Cat Grin" close-up of a lemon shark's face on the surface at sunset, was recently selected from more than 20,000 photos as winner of the Oceans division of the international Nature's Best Photography ( 2008 Windland Smith Rice Awards.

Because Mr. Yates' photo won one of the competition's 19 categories, a 5-foot high print of the photo is on display in a special exhibition in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, one of the most prestigious and highly-visited museums in the world. The exhibition, which opened November 8, 2008, lasts through May 3, 2009. According to Steve Freligh, publisher and CEO of Nature's Best Photography, more than two million visitors will view the exhibition during that time.

Says Mr. Yates of his winning photo, "Of all the sharks I've photographed, this eight-foot lemon shark on the surface at sunset in the Bahamas evokes the strongest reactions. It is the only one with what I would call an 'expression' on its face. I took advantage of the camera's high frame rate, using a fisheye lens in a partially submerged underwater housing only a few inches away from its face."

Photography like Mr. Yates' that is honored by the Nature's Best Photography Awards serves to inspire millions of people worldwide, according to the contest organizers. In addition to the Smithsonian exhibition, the winning photographs are published in the 2008 Fall Awards Special Collector's Edition of Nature's Best Magazine. Winning images are also now posted on, as well as in galleries on AOL Pixcetera and MSNBC.

Although Mr. Yates does not try to profit from his photography, he uses it to raise money for charitable causes. Currently, all proceeds from sales of his photos are donated to the International Children's Surgical Foundation (, which corrects facial deformities of children in lesser-developed countries. As Yates explains, "It is wonderful to see people enjoying my photographs and buying them as art, but it is even more wonderful to know that a hobby I enjoy so much is helping to change the lives of those who are less fortunate."

Mr. Yates' work can be seen at

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