Who and what I'm all about
I am based in Leicestershire, UK. I became interested in Nature from a young age and was very rarely at home, always wandering the woods and rivers looking for wildlife. My late Grandfather was a big influence in my childhood always showing me signs of nature and pointing out different aspects of life from habitats and seasons. Some 30 years on and I am still as restless and keen to learn more about the natural world. My favourite destination in the UK is the Shetland Isles, if the weather conditions are right it is a wildlife photographer’s dream, with vast seabird Colonies and northern specialties there is always something to photograph. I have a deep passion for travelling to the Arctic and I love the challenge in working in this difficult and unpredictable environment.
My images are widely published and are also represented by some of the leading Picture agencies in the country like Nature PL and RSPB Images. I have been very lucky over the years to win a few awards for my photography which you can see in the awards section. My worked has featured in some of the leading events on Wildlife photography like Wild Wonders of Europe and 2020 Vision. I run a successful photography tour business with Mark Sisson called Natures Images which specialises in running tours in the UK and overseas and together we have built it to be one of Europe’s leading photo tour companies.
I had my first feature published in the June 2014 issue of National Geographic. The feature is about the Atlantic Puffin. The project spanned over five years and I visited some of the most beautiful colonies in the UK, Iceland and Norway in search of images of this iconic bird. It was one of the hardest projects I have undertaken as the demands and standards are so high in shooting for National Geographic.
Why nature photography?
I have always been interested in Nature and the Outdoors from a young age and Nature Photography seemed a perfect path to follow to enjoy both. I like the fact I can be in remote locations or see something rare or unusual and have my camera at hand to record it and share it.
What’s best about it?
Without doubt being out in the field and just enjoying the places I go and the things I see. I like nothing more than working in remote locations and rising to the challenge of capturing the landscape or animals that live there. I like seabird colonies and have tried to visit most of them in the UK over the past few years, it is a great feeling of being on a remote island with just yourself and thousands upon thousands of birds for company. Ultimately I like achieving the goal I set out to do, that could be a particular image I had been working on or a location I wanted to get to.
What’s worst about it?
Without doubt the technical side which we now have to do and the more times I go out with my camera means I have more work to do on the computer. I am also away for long periods of time so miss my family and then when I get back I have all this processing to do, you can’t win. Out in the field I don’t really dislike anything about nature photography, I moan about the equipment I have to carry, I moan about the distance I have to walk and I moan about the fact that the animal never turned up or the light was not great but I don’t dislike it, I just like moaning.
Favourite species and favourite place in Europe?
Oh well I will say it my favourite species is the Puffin and I just love to watch and photograph this beautiful bird. I like the fact it can be so sociable and loving to each other one minute and then fights break out the next and they turn into these maniacs that kick the hell out of each other, very funny. I don’t have a particular favourite location, but I love islands and islands that have got a lot of seabirds on them. I have been to most of the large seabird colonies in the UK, but favourites remain St Kilda and the Flannans.
What’s in the bag?
I have a range of lens from 24mm to 500mm and always carry a couple of bodies. I have always used Canon and always will. I always carry my angle finder as this is great for getting really low which I like to do and I always carry my filter kit, but with only a couple of filters, a polarizer and a ND Grad. My Leather man tool is always in the bag as well, but I must remember to take it out when I travel on a plane because I keep getting them confiscated.
Your specialties / skills?
I’d like to think that I am a generalist in my photography as I am interested in all aspects from Macro, Landscapes, Birds and Mammals. Seabirds are a great passion of mine and I would like to think that I am a specialist in this field. The hardest part is getting to and landing on some of these remote outer lying colonies as so many things can go against you, especially weather. If you land on one of these Islands you have to be prepared to spend weeks because conditions can change drastically within hours. So the right equipment is essential.
What will you do in your next life?
I would like to come back as a Nature photographer but next time a rich one so I could afford to employ helpers to help me carry my equipment!!
3 tips for beginners
- Understand your subject.
- Understand your location.
- Understand your equipment.
To photograph subjects well requires a deep knowledge of its behaviour and habits. The more you know the easy it will become to take images. You can find information through books but to really get to know it you have to be out in the field and observe them for long periods of time. This takes time but the rewards in the end will reap huge benefits.
Find a favourite location and visit it as much as your spare time allows. If you get to know an area well you will find your subjects and what time they are active and at what time of the year. It doesn’t have to be a boreal forest or a Mountain top, it can be a local nature reserve or disused canal, whatever it is there will be wildlife that has occupied it.
Get to know your equipment so when something appears or happens it becomes second nature to change settings or exposure quickly and then you will not be fumbling around which could mean you miss that vital once in a lifetime shot.
Puffin in Flight, Treshnish Isles, Scotland
Over the years I have had many favourite pictures but they tend to change with time or until I at least better them. This shot though has always been a favourite and as I love puffins so much then I will go with this one.
What do you like about it?
To photograph Puffins in flight is very difficult as they are so fast and when one is carrying sandeels back to its nesting chamber they come in even faster. But I really like the eye contact and the fact that the bird looks very unstable in his approach.
Could it be better?
Yes of course every image can be better; it could have been raining, better light, better wing position, and more fish.
Behind the Scene
Yes of course every image can be better; it could have been raining, better light, better wing position, and more fiThe image was taken on the Treshnish Isles which are just off the west coast of Mull. They are a beautiful group of islands and one of the best places I have found to photograph Puffins. I spent a week trying to get Puffins in flight and took thousands of images but only really got two or three good ones, it was good fun though.
Location: Treshnish Isles, Scotland
Equipment: Canon 1D MK11, 300mm 2.8, F4, 1/2000, ISO 200