We’ve had a few wildlife photographers grace the pages of RAW. It always fascinates me how thy manage to capture wildlife in their natural habitats. The dedication involved astounds me.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in the countryside of South Dorset in the Uk. Surrounded by nature and not far from the ocean, It was not long until I had an enormous passion and appreciation for the natural world around me. I’m currently studying at Falmouth University in Cornwall. I am currently working on a documentary film that is due to be finished in June. At the end of the year, I am starting an Internship in Underwater filmmaking in Thailand.
What inspired you to get started in photography?
I think it was seeing the cameramen on TV, being out in the field with nothing but there cameras and getting close to animals I had not even heard of. I started over a few years trying to capture different species and trying to learn as much about them before and during a photographic project.
What gear do you take to each shoot and what lens can you not live without?
In my camera bag I usually have my main camera body (currently and Nikon D7000) and a telephoto lens, usually a 300mm 2.8. On top of this I try to carry a go pro, for my video diary and a couple of other lenses. I would struggle to survive with out the 300mm. However in June, when I finish in Falmouth, I might have to. This is because the lens is owned by the University kit store!!!
How do you market yourself and has social media been an important part?
Social media is incredible for the photographer. I simply have to take advantage of it if I want people to see my work, which lets face it is the goal of most photographers. When I’m back from a shoot, I am able to upload my processed shots to my blog and website, and from here I can link to my friends of Facebook and to relevant organisations on Twitter. It is truly an amazing thing to be able to share links to hundreds of people in one click.
What’s your favourite photo that you’ve taken and does it have any significance?
My favourite images are usually the ones that were awesome to take. So for me, the image of the female Otter breaking the surface of the water is one of my favourite shots. I had been lying next to the river getting very wet for only about an hour, when she turned up. She started to feed right in front of me and at some points came so close my camera wouldn’t focus on her. It was such an amazing experience that I have a bond with the images I think.
Select a photo you have taken, explain how it was taken and how did you edit it?
Last year I was on a diving trip to the red sea. I had a number of shots that I wanted to take and it was only after I had returned to the UK, that I had Idea for a composite image from 2 separate shots. After selecting and editing the two shots separately, used Adobe Photoshop to combine them. I am really happy with the result and although many people believe that it is real, I always have a comment below to inform that it is a composite image.
The turtle at sunset was taken in Marsa Alam in Egypt.
What processing tool do you use and do you believe in the camera doing all the work or in post ?
I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop together to sort and process my work. Lightroom is so good for organising and basic adjustment and then I use Photoshop for more serious adjustments to image content. I do like to get the image as near to perfect as possible in camera, however I use Photoshop and love using it. I am
Whats your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
I have just bought a gillie suit! It has to be the best thing I own, for wildlife photography. It breaks up my outline just enough to camouflage into just about anything. I have used it on public river paths and have not been seen by dog walkers, less than a few meters away. It gives animals more confidence even if they know something is not quite right, its ideal for getting more relaxed behaviour.
Where do you prefer to post your photos online and why there?
I have a blog, and a website. These are the main areas that I upload my work.
However I also use 500px a lot to see what the public’s opinion of my images is. My work is also represented by Alamy.
Do you ever get photographers block and if so what do you do to get inspired again?
There is so much pressure nowadays to photograph in new and original ways. Its often very hard to do this and I do sometimes get demoralised after weeks of poor results. However all I need to do is get out with the camera and photograph something I can do with relative ease. For example birds on the garden feeder. If I get results I start to gain my confidence back. I am lucky to have some friends with kingfishers living in their garden. I often find that sitting in one place photographing one perch can be very rewarding.
Is there anything you wish you had done when you first started in photography that would of made a difference?
I wish above anything else that I had sought the advise from a wildlife pro at the start of my interest in wildlife images. A workshop with a pro would have taught me about some of the basic rules of wildlife photography. These similar to the rule of thirds and other photographic techniques, there are some to do with wildlife that has taken me many years to find out and explore myself. If someone had given me this vital information I would like to think that I would be a bit ahead of myself. However having said this, I have learned so much and had many great experiences with wildlife, and have enjoyed the experimentation, whilst trying to find the best way to capture still images.
Any advice for new photographers wanting to go pro?
Its all about marketing yourself. You can have the best images in the world and get nowhere if you don’t market you work. However many images find there way in to local and national press that might not be as good a standard as yours, however they have been marketed and purchased. Its a hard skill and I am just learning the basics.
Visit Sam Stewart – website