“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.”
― David Attenborough
You couldn’t sum-up the natural world as good as David Attenborough. I get the utmost thrill and enjoyment from the natural world be it reading or in the field. In the UK I was involved in natural history in all its branches. My father was an RSPCA inspector so I was surrounded by animals and other weird or exotic creatures. My interest in ornithology developed into entomology and land crustaceans, and later arboriculture and urban forestry.
I am always looking to improve when photographing nature. I endeavour to combine my skills and knowledge to produce artistic, and informative works, and I work my hardest at identification of what I capture digitally.
As time went on, I would photograph species and habitats for my biological research, but then it all changed. Thinking about my photographs I then wanted to capture the colour, light and moments so badly. I then decided to enlist on a local basic photography course to get the rudiments of photography under my belt, and I loved it; and shortly after it turned into a passion; along with my writing.
As Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) once said:
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
So I knew there was some hope for me. Photographing nature — getting dirty and wet, sweating profusely in blazing heat, getting attacked by a scourge of whining mosquitoes, and waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting just to get a shot (or not) is all that really matters — the holistic experience that nature provides. It is more gratifying when you get the shot you want; a reward for effort and time well spent.
First and foremost I am a naturalist at heart in every sense. I love all branches of natural history. Instead of collecting physical specimens, I’d much prefer collecting images of nature. I’m not a “professional”, meaning this is not my full-time career, but my approach is professional.
So, you’re a photographer! Many locally know I’m a naturalist as well as a writer, and when they look down at my camera they also realise that I’m also a photographer. Only then do they ask me the second dreaded question: What kind of photographer are you?
That’s always a difficult question to answer, and one that I really can’t. My answer is a collective attempt at one, “a natural history photographer,” is what I always reply with in hope they would be satisfied with it and walk away. Occasionally, I get those with more interest who persist on a specialism, in which I tell them generally macro/micro photography.
I try to capture the presentation of nature; and that specific moment; and I capture colours and light that nature bestows.
Firstly, it’s all about colour and light, and having the equipment and skills to capture them.
The second part of the answer concerns habitat and the ecosystem. I try to capture the organism and its natural habitat. It’s like a snapshot into their life — and telling a story. I like the sound of, ecological photography to describe this.
Using the photography term the “rule of thirds” to describe my photographic experience, I would say:
Photographing nature also aids learning, and helps by capturing the precious moments that will never happen again. It is an art, but also a type of documentation.
Many people don’t realise all that sweat and tears; and the numerous trips back and forth — the effort you make to get just one shot. Sometime planning pays off, but nature has its own plan, and many times it doesn’t coincide with yours. But that is the beauty, and that’s the experience I like.
I still long to experience that really long wait for that snowy bison, wolf, mountain hare and raptor shot in Poland amongst others, but life often gets in the way.
When I met my wife, she introduced me to the fauna and flora of Poland; and I fell in love with that too— I was hooked and amazed at the diversity (and primeval flora towards the north east). Most of my images are from Gibraltar, Spain, and Poland, although I am always open to the opportunity to expand geographically.
I have been a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (FRES), and an overseas representative (2011-2012) for The Society for the History of Natural History. I am currently a Fellow of The Linnean Society of London (FLS). I am also a professional member of the Royal Society of Biology (MRSB) and on the register as a Chartered Biologist (CBiol) 2013 — to date.
My qualifications: The National Small Animal Care Certificate, Diploma in Kennel Management, Diploma of Higher Education in Health Promotion, BSc (HONS) in Health Studies (first class), and an MA in Professional Writing. I am currently awaiting my final mark (distinction range) for a PGCert in Leadership and Management (Lancaster University). I am also seeking an MSc in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry with Myerscough University Centre (UCLAN).
A special moment I will never forget is the pleasure of meeting probably the hero of my childhood, the humble, inspirational and great naturalist Sir David Attenborough. This was at his Darwin/Wallace lecture in 2011 pictured above.
I am also an avid book collector of natural history and other works.