Those of you who have visited my portfolio – and to those who haven’t, do it now – will know that I take an awful lot of animal shots. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s my favourite subject.
But there’s one subject that I have so far manifestly failed to capture. One animal that continually eludes me: Man.
He’s a pretty widespread and common creature, to be found roaming in most areas of the country, and yet succeeding in capturing him in his habitat is a tricky business. Attempts to take pictures of natural behaviour can often be met with hostility – sometimes a hard stare, increasingly likely with the warning cry of, " ’Ere, who said you could take my effing picture!" Very rarely, there can be attacks, usually by the male of the species.
Should you encounter a male of the latter variety, it is probably best to back away slowly and assume a submissive posture before running like hell.
As with other animals in the wild, a zoom lense can be of great use, but you should make sure you are behind cover before attempting to take a picture. If you are spotted, the animal may freeze, or worse, start posing, and you will be unable to achieve the candid shot you were after.
One way is to attempt a portrait in a controlled environment – but for a wildlife photographer like myself, that seems second best. It is always going to lack that spontaneous feel, however accomplished the portrait.
The best way, then, is to focus on a particular individual, let it get used to you, put it at ease and then, slowly, bring out the camera. Let it see the camera as part of you and eventually, after a while, you should have gained its trust enough to be able to take its picture.
This method, of course, takes a lot of time and patience and will probably require the expenditure of a fair amount of money for foodstuffs and gifts with which to buy its affections. For myself, I’m still trying. Even now, after nearly ten years of marriage, I’ve yet to convince her…