The Team

Ship Location

E Pacific Ocean

Erin Ranney

Photo of Erin Ranney
Video Engineering Intern
Recent Graduate
Washington State University and University of Salford

Tell us about your work / research. What kind of things do you do?

I currently am working on my career as a wildlife camerawoman, really just getting started. I have been assisting and interning the past year, along with other jobs. I have a cinema camera and drone that I try to work with every day and practice when I’m not on one of my jobs. I get out in the field and shoot- sometimes hiking for miles or volunteering with nonprofits to make videos for them. I have to leave home quite a bit to work or network. 

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

I started off with my undergrad in Wildlife Ecology from Washington State University, I loved the outdoors and I loved the work involved in the field. After doing field work for a year, including a technician temporary job in Madagascar, I decided I wanted to move to the media side of wildlife. I really loved being behind the camera and bringing my photos to my mom’s elementary classes and showing them where they could go- places that some of them couldn’t imagine were possible. After researching I decided to do my Masters in England at the University of Salford in Wildlife Documentary Production. There is so much to see out there, and it’s really incredible to be able to bring that to people who might not have the chance or ability to go for themselves. 

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

I’ve had many very influential people in my life, starting with my family (especially my parents), who always had us outdoors playing and told us we could be anything we wanted. I’ve had several professors, teachers, and coaches who have pushed me further. Once I entered the wildlife filming field, I’ve had a few people really put time and effort in teaching me and encouraging me and I really can’t thank them enough- especially Mark and Mary who have gone above and beyond to work with me. 

What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?

The fascinating part of the work is seeing the behaviors of wildlife and learning how to think like one, so you know how to react and move the camera. You really get enthralled in the shot. 

What other jobs led you to your current career?

I’ve had some great opportunities in the past that have led to my current career. I started working on a commercial set net with my dad near Yakutat, Alaska when I was younger and eventually started commercial fishing in Bristol Bay with my aunt when I was 14 and she was 15. Now I run an operation with my little sister. From there I have had a variety of jobs and internships; ranging from ungulate lab work at Washington State University, volunteering at the Grizzly Bear Research facility, collaring cougars, field work in Madagascar, a wildlife guide at my uncle’s lodge in Alaska, filming macaques at a nonprofit in Thailand, camera assisting on a brown bear shoot for the Smithsonian in Alaska, Alaska field researcher for a production company in England, volunteering as a coach with Special Olympics, volunteering at the Wild Felid Advocacy Center of Washington and interning at Mark Emery films in Florida and Alaska. I love science, wildlife, cameras and testing myself outdoors and each job has helped my skillset improve. 

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Ecology- Washington State University 2013; Masters of Arts in Wildlife Documentary Production- University of Salford 2015; BSAC Scuba certified.

What are your hobbies?

I love hiking, snowshoeing, working on my family’s tree farm and photography. I’m trying to relearn some instruments I used to play, but it’s not worth trying to listen to yet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?

Get outside- learn about your local wildlife and learn how animals behave and react to certain situations. Listen to what people have to say- never underestimate the knowledge of an old farmer or someone who is always in that area. And be willing to ask for help and advice, in wildlife filmmaking, there are so many incredible people who are more than happy to help someone they think will listen. I’m still just getting started and I still have so much to learn, but it’s an exciting journey. 

How did you get involved with the Nautilus Exploration Program? How did you get on the ship?

I applied for the Video Engineering Internship after meeting a very sweet, talented video engineer down at a Wildlife Film Festival in Jackson Hole that started in this program. She encouraged me to look into it and it happened to work well with my other projects and jobs.