Firstly, I don't think I have ever classed myself as a "wildlife" photographer. For starters, I don't know about, nor have studied a great deal about any of the wildlife that I've ever photographed. Secondly, my equipment is great....for people though! My longest lens has a focal length 200mm, which on a full frame sensor, is not that much at all in the world of wildlife. I do have a 2x converter so I can have 400mm focal length at my disposal at the cost of quality though. I would more class myself as a photographer who likes to take beautiful images which may or may not include wildlife.
For many years of my life, I lived very much on the doorstop of Richmond Park. Perfect for me, a photographer who likes to take beautiful images which may or may not include wildlife, because in 15 minutes, I could walk from my house into the park, get there before sunrise, and every time come back with some stunning images. Now if I'd lived a 15 walk from the Scottish Highlands, then I dare say it would have been weeks before I'd even seen any wildlife, let alone get close enough for my gear to be of any use! I really have the utmost admiration for photographers who spend so much time away from home, living in the wild, capturing amazing images and creating huge awareness for certain species which are so hard to come by. It makes my getting up at 04:30 and still feeling the warmth of my porridge whilst taking pictures of deer, feel rather too easy.
So, why did I drag myself out of bed so often I hear you ask? Well, my whole time shooting there has been a 5 year long lesson on how best to utilise light, learning to quickly and somehow, subconsciously, change my camera settings to keep up with the ever changing light and because of my lack of long focal length lenses, there was always a lot more to think about in the way of composition. I couldn't just fill the image of a close up of a mighty stags head all of the time. There were many occasions that I would have liked to just that, but I do actually prefer the "bigger picture". Also, I never fancied being on the sharp end of an angry deer after getting too close!
So the approach I took every morning I went up to the park, was to go to all the places where I knew the light would be beautiful and where I'd have lots of natural settings to help with the composition. That way, when there were deer, swans and so on at any of those places, I would be near certain of going home with some great images. I have to say 99% of the time it worked. And looking back at all of my images I have to say that my favourite style of photographing appears to be into the light, lying on my front in mud! It doesn't work for everything (especially my wife's laundry load), but I do tend to capture a lot of images from very low down.
I have to say that I do miss being able to get images like these relatively easily and on my doorstep. I can't wait to go back there but I have to say I prefer photographing people! Why? Well because generally speaking, I don't have to get up so early, if a person is not posing quite how I want them then I can ask them to adjust instead of crawling through bracken to get a different angle and finally, not once did any of the deer in Richmond Park dip their hooves in their wallet and buy their beautiful portraits from me!
As well as being beneficial technically as regards to photography, living in London at a very fast pace, it was so relaxing getting out to the park and at the times I went, most of the time it felt like I had the park to myself (unless it was a weekend in rutting season).
If you have never been to Richmond Park, I suggest you go as it is a beautiful place. There is a visitor centre run by the Friends of Richmond Park, who play a huge role in the upkeep of the Royal Park. You may also see one or two of my images there that I have donated for postcards and calendars.
I will leave you with a gallery of some of my images from my time there. they are also available to purchase as prints. If you are interested then please get in touch and don't forget, if you want to stay in touch and be the first to hear about any upcoming deals or offers on my portrait photography then you can subscribe to my mailing list here.