Stephanie Faust was in the right place at the right time.
The seasoned photographer stood at a lookout point near the Delaware Bay on Aug. 2, her camera and attention focused on the Delaware Breakwater East End Lighthouse, stark red against the cotton candy pink and blue sky.
Suddenly, Faust, who was aiming her lens over a family sitting nearby, heard a shout: “Oh wow, I think he has a shark!”
She turned her head to the sky, caught a glimpse of an osprey soaring through the clouds and snapped two photos before it disappeared over the dunes.
What Faust did not realize, in that moment, was that she had captured much more than just an osprey. Later, as she zoomed in on the “sea hawk” with its long, narrow wings outstretched, she noticed something quite large clutched in its talons – a dogfish shark, dinner for the bird of prey.
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Initially, Faust was displeased with the photos. In a perfect world, she would have better positioned herself for the action shot. The Lewes native almost refused to share the images online. But, later that night, she reconsidered.
“Haha, wish I was in the right camera setting. I was focused on one last capture of the lighthouse, looked up and he was over my head,” wrote Faust. She included a hashtag for shark week and clicked “post.”
The photo immediately went viral.
All of Delmarva’s eyes were on Faust. People, left and right, began to reach out to the photographer, praising her for her work and asking where a print, sticker or t-shirt of the photo could be purchased. Today, she is pleased to share that the photo will be available for purchase soon.
“It was pure luck,” said Faust, 50. “In the many years I’ve been chasing osprey, I’ve never captured a shark and osprey. But it was low tide, so there were sand bars out there, and I think [the bird] was able to snatch one up.”
Faust has been a photographer for about 10 years, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she began to focus more on nature and wildlife. From the very first moment she picked up a camera, her part-time hobby has become one of her greatest passions.
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Most of her work can be found at Shore Market Place in Lewes, where she shares a space with more than 40 different local artisans. Additionally, she always makes sure to share her work and an accompanying story online with her ever-growing number of followers.
“I can’t help but tell the story that led up to the picture,” said Faust. “My stories have touched so many people. Honest to goodness, when I meet people, they almost want to shed a tear because they remember some exact pictures and stories that I’ve shared.”
Through her photography, Faust wishes for others to enjoy a slice of the coastal life that she is lucky enough to witness each and every day.
“When you spend time out with nature, you just never know what you’re going to see.”
Olivia Minzola covers communities on the Lower Shore. Contact her with tips and story ideas at email@example.com.