LONG BEACH — Scenic seascapes and intimate wildlife portraits line the walls of one of Long Beach’s newest businesses.
In June, Jace Stenersen, 19, officially opened Jace Walker Photography at 304 Pacific Ave. South, in Long Beach.
There’s custom prints of varying sizes and material from metal to mat board as well as hats, hoodies and protective cell phone cases, all featuring Stenersen’s photos over the past decade.
Stenersen was 9-years-old and living with family in Yacolt when his bird watching hobby blossomed into a photography passion.
“My mom (Jennifer Stenersen) had a camera and I started taking pictures of birds,” Jace Stenersen recalled.
“I got better at birding and photography at the same time. It’s just what I love doing.”
He learned photography mechanics through trial and error, with help from some videos and classes on YouTube.
Eventually he made prints of his most prominent photos and began selling them inside his mom’s store in Long Beach (Eden’s Bouquet) and then the Ilwaco Saturday Market.
“People really liked my stuff and I saw an opportunity when this space became available,” Stenersen said.
Among the thousands of bird photos, a picture of three baby barn owls, taken near Sandridge Road, stands out as his personal (and customer) favorite.
“It’s one of my favorites because it took so long and I put so much work into it,” Stenersen said.
Capturing captivating shots required a special commitment and daily dedication, whether it was the fledgling baby barn owls or a fleeting hummingbird pausing on his sister’s finger at sunrise.
Stenersen smiled while recounting more memorable photo stories, from close encounters with bears to getting lost around Leadbetter Point, to recruiting his sister for help.
“For the lighting to be right, I had to be up at 5 a.m. — and I had to get my sister up too,” Stenersen recalled while laughing.
Affectionately known as the ‘Bird Nerd’ on social media, Stenersen has become a regular fixture with local bird clubs while broadening his presence online, particularly Instagram (@jace_the_bird_nerd), where his more than 500 posts have amassed nearly 2,000 followers since arriving on the peninsula in 2018.
Having the opportunity to share his photography passion in person is among the most exciting aspects about having his own retail space, Stenersen said.
“Instagram is fine and all, but I’m excited to interact with customers. Sometimes people forget about the pictures after they go down the feed, but here I’ll get to share my passion with customers daily.”