The Four Seasons
When I first considered becoming a professional wildlife photographer, way back in 1986, I was faced with a major dilemma. It was the fact that I did not own a camera and had absolutely no photographic experience whatsoever! However I had a powerful driving force and that was my passion for wildlife and nature which I still have today.
Water Vole at Lunch
At that time I was an avid member of my town’s Natural History Society and also the local RSPB Members Group where I was the indoor and outdoor Meetings Secretary for a few years. This meant that I saw lots of nature orientated lectures on a diverse range of subjects from a variety of speakers. Most of them were above average photographers but occasionally we would get one that really stood out from the rest. These were the ones that filled the halls and these were the ones that inspired me. I can remember sitting there in the dark and being totally in awe of their brilliant images and the skills and ability to capture them.
Barn Owl in the Mist
I was fortunate to live in rural Sussex and consequently I had a reasonable knowledge of my local wildlife. Within walking distance from my house I had a badger sett all to myself where I could just call the badgers and they would emerge from the sett to be fed. Roe deer roamed the surrounding fields and the local pond was a toad breeding site. Clearly I knew where to find plenty of subjects but could I photograph them? I was about to find out!
Roe Buck in June
So I went to the local camera shop and bought the best 35mm SLR camera that I could afford at the time, it was a top of the range Canon A1 along with a 35-70mm zoom lens. It wasn’t long before I realised that I could get a decent image occasionally but certainly not on a regular basis. I desperately needed those extra skills if I was to progress. I remember thinking at the time that if the local studio photographer was asked to go out and photograph an adder he would most likely make a reasonable job of it - if he could find one!
A Rare Black Adder Basking
However the odds were that he would not. But I could and this ability to locate my subjects was my incentive to carry on. Logically it would take him years to acquire my natural history knowledge and field craft where as I could learn his technical skills with some expert tuition in a short space of time, but where could I get that? The answer was simple, I joined my local camera club and from that moment my photography improved in leaps and bounds and there would be no turning back .
Hare at 35mph
I soon became aware that I had another important decision to make and the sooner I made it the better it would be for me. Basically as a wildlife photographer you have two options. You can specialise in one specific subject like birds or butterflies for example, or not set any boundaries and photograph everything you can. It was really a no brainer and from the beginning I have photographed virtually everything with a natural history tag.
Dragonfly at rest
This diversity of subject matter through-out the year is what I will be showing and talking about along with passing on a variety of tips and tricks for getting the best images. For the club members who just enjoy nature photography and would like to improve or those who have aspirations to become full time wildlife photographers like I did I guarantee that you will enjoy this talk, you should certainly learn a great deal from it. Hopefully be inspired by it.