Inspiration of a wildlife photographer
As a wildlife photographer, I am often asked what inspires me. Consider this…
The temperature is sitting close to -40 degrees and I’ve just seen a red fox dive into the crisp deep snow of Yellowstone National Park. Immediately looking at the photos I captured of the moment, there’s disappointment in my mind. The image I thought was the best of the sequence, isn’t sharp. I almost delete them all there and then but decide to hold off and keep them as a memory of the event.
Fast forward a year and after looking back over those old images again, one of them catches my eye. The red fox almost entirely cleared the viewfinder of my camera, and there’s something quite whimsical about one frame in particular with just its face, legs and tail suspended at the top of the frame. Fast forward a couple more months and that image (which I nearly deleted a year previously) is responsible for me attending the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards dinner at London’s Natural History Museum.
I’ve always been a visual rather than academic person. Art and design was the only subject I really had interest in when I was at school and that, combined with watching natural history documentaries as I grew up, laid the foundations for me to take my first tentative footsteps into wildlife photography. However it wasn’t until that pivotal moment, when I was first recognised in the world’s most prestigious wildlife photography competition, that my passion was truly ignited and my desire to photograph wildlife elevated further than ever before.
Over the years, my photographic style has evolved into one that favours dramatic light and, at times, unconventional framing. Add to that my creative perspective and a desire to produce something visually compelling, and I am able to find inspiration from any subject rather than having a desire to seek out specific animals.
There is a common misconception and belief that the best and most exciting wildlife photography is taken by travelling the world, sitting in front of unusual species in far flung corners of the globe. It goes without saying that doing this is of course a wonderful experience, especially with wildlife numbers rapidly declining, but in reality, it is unrealistic to expect the average person to be able to simply jump on a plane at a whim and spend a week in another part of the world.
With that thought in mind, it’s important for me to convey the message that wildlife photography is very accessible to everyone, because animals are all around us. It doesn’t matter where you live, be it in the countryside or the middle of a city, the chances are there is some form of wildlife close by. This in turn makes wildlife photography far more accessible than many realise. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and even the species you see every day can be incredibly photogenic. In the right conditions, it can often produce more dynamic photos than a conventionally charismatic subject an eight hour flight away.
In 2014 a European Robin was spotted at a temple in China and prompted hundreds of photographers to go there. This simple bird, seen in almost every garden across the UK, caused quite the stir. Those circumstances serve as a wonderful reminder that all wildlife is exotic to someone.
The key to capturing dynamic photos of wildlife is understanding light and how to use it to your advantage. Learning to read the conditions and know what type of image they will suit gains the best results. It’s through doing this when photographing wildlife at home and abroad, that I produce images that I hope strike a chord and help raise awareness not only to the plight of species at risk but also to those who are misunderstood or forced to adapt to ever more populated urban environments in order to thrive. And if I can inspire others to do the same, all the better!
I was delighted when WWF-UK asked if I would be interested in holding an exhibition and hosting a wildlife photography talk at their Living Planet Centre so that together we could educate and inspire people about wildlife and photography.
The exhibition Art in Nature, from Surrey to Africa runs from Monday 28th November to Friday 2nd December 2016 and combines traditional framed prints, contemporary aluminium and multimedia displays to offer visitors a varied viewing experience. More information can be found at www.wwf.org.uk/whatson
Richard is a professional wildlife photographer and Nikon Ambassador, who has been awarded multiple times including twice in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and in 2015, being named the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. To find out more, please visit www.richardpeters.co.uk