What equipment do you use?
I have used Nikon cameras and lenses continuously since 1984. As it happens, I’m also a training partner for Nikon UK Ltd, but I’m not under contract to the company and under no obligation to endorse their products. I am at liberty to speak as I find. Currently my favourite camera is the D4s and the lens I use most frequently is the AF-S 200-400mm f4 VR. I also use a Gitzo carbon fibre tripod with a Wimberley gimbal head.
I’m an amateur artist – may I paint/draw from your photographs?
If you intend to make a faithful copy, that would easily be recognised as derived from the original photograph, then I’m afraid that is covered by copyright law and I would need to charge a licence fee, payable up front. However, using photographic images purely as reference material, say to research the physical characteristics of a plant or animal subject, is permissible. Many artists keep clippings files from print publications, or use online search engines, to aid them in their work. You are welcome to browse my portfolio on this web site, but if you require me to send you prints or specially prepared files then I would make a service charge to reflect the cost.
I’m a photography student – please would you complete my questionnaire?
Like many other professional photographers, I receive lots of requests like this, and unfortunately it’s just impossible to answer them all. You can help to improve your chances of a reply as follows:
- personalise your message and address me by name
- don’t just copy and paste a standard message and send in a group e-mail
- convince me that you have done your research first, and aren’t asking questions that have already been answered on my website
Do you need somebody to carry your tripod?
Wildlife photographers rarely need or use assistants, unlike studio and fashion photographers. Most of our work is, by necessity, a solitary pursuit. By the time I am no longer able to carry my own tripod, probably the game will be up anyway. Sorry!
Who are your main influences?
There are many wildlife photographers whose work I have admired over the years. Among my predecessors, I would have to include Art Wolfe, Jim Brandenburg, and Hannu Hautala. Among my contemporaries, Laurie Campbell, Jan Töve and Klaus Nigge. It’s also vital to stay fresh and to keep an eye on the next generation of talent, and I have been particularly impressed by the work of Vincent Munier, Sandra Bartocha and Orsolya Haarberg. Inspiration comes from many sources though, including photographers working in other genres, not to mention painters, musicians, writers, etc. Drink it all in!
How did you get started in wildlife photography?
I have been a birdwatcher since I was a 12-year-old schoolboy, and always taken a keen interest in nature. I later studied zoology and plant biology at university. Photography was always part of the mix, though largely self-taught, and I’m convinced that the most difficult part is developing one’s fieldcraft skills. My big career break was to land the job of stills photographer for the RSPB, after nine years of low-paid, temporary contract work in their conservation division.
I want to become a professional wildlife photographer – what advice can you give?
Frankly, this is not a viable career option for the vast majority of people. Nobody employs wildlife photographers – it’s self-employment or nothing. Most of us who survive at it have a kind of portfolio career, combining stock shooting with writing articles, lecturing, workshop tutoring, etc. Or by subsidising the wildlife side from a more commercial strand of photography, such as weddings or portraiture. You might sleep better at night, and enjoy your photography more, by keeping it as a hobby. Of course, there are always a few determined individuals who will find a way to make it pay. I hope you’re one of them.