Walter Dorsett is a Native American Wildlife and Landscape photographer born in Annapolis, Maryland on September 12, 1996. Walter’s family originates from the Lumbee tribe, which is centered in North Carolina.
Walter’s passion for photography was a calling revealed to him when he was only eight years old. At first, he had little direction and no endgame in sight. He sought to create something, but he had no idea what it could become.
It was early 2015, as Walter was photographing a home for an estate sale, when he came across a book by the Delaware photographer Kevin Fleming. Walter was in awe at the wildlife and landscapes, as each page got better and better.
For years, Dorsett had suppressed his creative urges as he worked dead-end jobs to accrue materials instead of following his dreams. Eventually, Walter saved enough money to quit his job and pursue a new career in landscape and wildlife photography. It was a farfetched goal at the time, and with so much to lose, he had no choice but to succeed.
By May 2015, Dorsett opened his first photography studio in the small town of North East, Maryland. At the time, Dorsett only had a small following on Facebook, and a sparse, unimpressive portfolio to match. The studio struggled to cover its overheads and no one knew who Walter Dorsett was. The local established photographers got the business and he was left offering discounted services, making mistakes as he built his business. Working for free to build a name, he was soon falling behind on bills.
In September 2015, a few days before his 19th birthday, Walter packed his photography studio into liquor store boxes and moved out like a thief in the night. Remnants of “studio closing” can still be seen on the Wallace Ave window. Defeated and embarrassed, Dorsett felt like a failure, and like he needed to look for a job and give up his dream.
During the Autumn, Walter began offering photography services, but this time strictly outdoors. It covered his bills at the time and gave him the capital to fund a few small trips.
He traveled to Solomons Island in southern Maryland. Here he practiced long exposures, photographing the incoming Chesapeake Bay waves at the Cove Point Lighthouse in Lusby.
With every place Walter ventured, he learned something new about photography, lighting and camera settings. Most importantly, he learned what not to do. Making mistakes in the beginning was something he paid the closest attention to. Failure was not an option, so with every mistake came a new-found success. He discovered a better way to do it next time. A truly self-taught photographer.
Dorsett was often criticized for his lack of photographic knowledge and technical skill. In the beginning, his approach involved more of looking at the world with imagination and less about the technical knowledge of how to use a camera and its settings. As he learned how to use his tools to his advantage, he became unstoppable. He had the knowledge, the eye, and the motivation to sit for hours for that perfect photograph.
By the spring of 2016, Walter had developed a remarkable range of expertise. He used his previous social media skills to promote his work, some would say, rather ferociously and loudly. Whether you followed Dorsett on Facebook or not, it’s highly likely you’d come across one of his photographs. He was everywhere. Once the locals got ahold of him and discovered the share button, his page soared to ten-thousand followers by the summer.
Everything was looking up for Walter. He had just entered the Weather Channel’s ‘It’s Amazing out There’ contest and became a fan favorite winner. The locals rallied behind to cast their daily vote for his Double Rainbow photograph taken in their hometown of North East, Maryland. The local newspaper the ‘Cecil Whig’ got ahold of Walter’s claim for the grand prize and featured him in that week’s edition. Although he didn’t win the grand prize, he was able to collect a fan favorite prize, of $500.
He invested in a new Hewlett Packard laptop so he could process his photographs on the go and publish them on Facebook at a much faster rate. Walter knew from early on that you not only had to seize the moment as a photographer but also be the first to post about whatever just happened. Whether it was a huge thunderstorm passing through or an incredible sunset, he needed to be the first to post so everyone would share his work the most. It became the blueprint for Walter’s social media success: a mix of hopping onto local and international viral moments and delivering the best of the best photographs.
Once Walter noticed how this tactic increased his following, he stuck with it and began paying attention to the full moons, solar and lunar eclipses, hurricanes, and natural phenomena. Anything people would be talking about that month. Walter became known for capturing every sunset and moonrise, and everything in between. His fans knew they could expect a new post at 8:55 pm every evening.
Eventually, Walter had his first viral moment with a short video of a male Northern Cardinal in the snow, captured in the first few days of 2017 during an East Coast snowstorm. It was bound to garner attention considering the storm impacted millions… and they were sure to be talking about it. Walter reached a whopping five million people that week across all his storm coverage.
Walter took notice of it all. The metrics, demographics, and trends all contributed to perfecting his craft. Everything happened simultaneously. He was a machine which would not take failure as an option. Regardless of how often it happened, he never let it show.
Over the next six years, Walter followed the same blueprint, each time with new art, new locations and subjects, and new, improved ideas. He frequently upgraded his equipment and invested in his business. He created new products for his fans and became one of the most marketable photographers in Maryland. The most followed Maryland photographer known all over the world, Walter emerged from a small town with a population of only 4,000 to having clients from as far as New Zealand to Egypt. People flock to pre-order the yearly calendar six months in advance.
Walter Dorsett has already reached hundreds of millions on social media with his original artwork. We’re always patiently awaiting his next project, next viral moment, but most of all, his next piece of art.
What else is
In the Eyes of Walter Dorsett?