Rancho Santa Fe photographer’s love of animals on display in Carlsbad’s Adore Art Gallery

Betty Byrd's photographs are on display at Adore Art Gallery,
(Karen Billing)

Rancho Santa Fe photographer Betty Byrd immerses herself in the wild wherever she travels, seeking to capture animals in their natural habitat. For about a year and a half, Byrd has been one of the featured artists at Adore Art Gallery in the Forum Carlsbad.

Her latest showing of wildlife wonders features the striking blue eyes and beak of a cormorant shot this spring at the La Jolla Cove, horses against a scenic Montana backdrop and a smiling otter in Monterey.

A Rancho Santa Fe resident for over 30 years, Byrd has been doing photography seriously for about 15 years. Her first one-woman show was held at the Carmel Valley Library in 2018 and she went on to show at Studio C Gallery in El Cajon. She has also won several photography awards at the San Diego County Fair.

Byrd’s travels have led her to photograph animals from Iceland to the jungles of Costa Rica. In 2019, Byrd was able to take a dream trip to Botswana, Africa.

“Africa changes your life as a photographer because it’s so alive,” she said of the trip where she snapped over 3,000 photos.

She recalls speeding across the desert in a jeep to see a grouping of hyenas, how the giraffes moved together in perfect precision and animals existing in harmony like something out of “The Lion King.” She captured photos of lions and leopards, elephants and packs of wild dogs.

With traveling on hold during the pandemic, her photography teacher gave her assignments to keep her busy. She spent a lot of time in her backyard and photographed birds at the San Dieguito Lagoon.

One day at the lagoon she found herself literally immersed in nature, sinking up to her chest in quicksand. “It was a mess,” said Byrd, who was grateful for her assistant and a man passing by who helped pull her out, somewhat painfully.

For all the adventure, she said she didn’t get one good shot that day.

Her travels will take her back to Africa this August—this time she will be in Kenya, going on safaris and visiting wildlife conservancies.

Byrd’s style is “old-fashioned” without many digital enhancements: “I want to capture animals so they look how they look.” A realist, she said she focuses on three core elements to capture the ideal photo: patience, light and behavior.

At Adore, she rotates out pieces every four months. She has done a display of all Africa shots and another of Mexican and North American grey wolves, photographed at the California Wolf Center in Julian. She was especially proud of those prints, proceeds of the sales went to support the center’s conservation efforts: “It’s wonderful what they are doing.”

One piece now on display is called “Liberace”, featuring a rare white peacock that she photographed in Vista, She waited four hours in peacock poop and the rain for the peacock to give her something. It turned and showed its big white fanned tail: “It just reminded me of a bridal veil.”

“My mind, eyes and heart have been opened by these treasured encounters with magnificent creatures great and small,” Byrd’s words read on her corner of the art gallery. “I hope that you enjoy them like I have.”

Adore Art Gallery is located at 1925 Calle Barcelona #108, Carlsbad. For more on Byrd, visit