A good Photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. Four years ago today my website went live and I turned my childhood hobby into my profession. I don’t see this as work but a way of life for me. My first blog post was about one of my images Family Life being commended in the British Wildlife Photography Awards- BWPA. It was the very first time I had entered any image into any form of competition and in the year that my website had launched it was a nice moment for me.
When I first started out I had no clue really how to work a computer, I had no knowledge of working Digital cameras, no formal photography training or background, I had no business or marketing plan, no money and had to borrow and beg off credit cards. I brought a prime lens with what money I had saved from working on the mobile cranes and rope access work I did for a living before photography. I learned how to work my camera and get the best from it in a way that works on the ground. I learned how to process images really getting the image right in camera rather than changing it in Photoshop.
I knew I had alot of knowledge of wildlife, I had great skills in fieldcraft and approaching animals and my heart was always among nature. I set up a few workshops that took clients to places I had visited since I was a kid to see and photograph some of my favorite wildlife and so my business started and grew. I was one of the first to start One to Ones with clients, offering a real encounter with wildlife at the same time learning key skills to improve my clients own wildlife photography. I still run these and my other trips very successfully today.
I’d like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you for the support of my clients, editors, and people over the years that I have had the pleasure of working alongside. I am launching a photo competition today where the prize is a One to One with myself in the UK. With my ethics as the backdrop to this competition I want those that choose to enter to have captured a truly wild moment. No props, no perches, no animals made to do something in return for food. I just want a simple image taken by the photographer who used his/her own skills and knowledge.
During those four years I have tried and will continue too be as real with my images as possible. Capturing truly wild moments using my own skills rather than rely on bringing the subject to you through bait, food or using captive animals. In an age where you can almost buy any set-up image you want, choosing your perch or prop, setting the background. Where the animal is made to jump, fly,dive and stand on two legs and so forth in return for food and getting the paying guest his or her chosen image.
My wildlife photography was born out a sheer love and passion for nature from a young age. From those early days I spent so much time being at one with nature, close to and watching, hidden from view on the off chance I would see a certain animal. Learning to get close to wildlife without disturbing the life of the animal, almost forgetting the outside world and becoming part of the animal I was getting close to or watching. By doing this I could understand the animal better, gaining many skills by observing their behaviors at the same time giving the subject complete respect which allowed me a private window into their personal and private lives.
My images represent an event that occurred in the wild something that I witnessed and recorded with my camera. My skill lies in interpreting and presenting this in a way that invokes beauty, mood and emotion with each moment captured. Respect for wildlife has to be the first thing in any image obtained, love nature and she will give up her secrets to you.
The result is real images where the subject is completely relaxed by your presence. At the same time the photographer will learn so much more about the subject and the environment in which the subject lives. You have to learn about your subject and fieldcraft to really embrace the world of wildlife I feel and in turn wildlife photography.
Wildlife photography for me is capturing a moment in the wild, I make no bones about disliking set up images, captive images or where the animal is made to do something in return for a reward, this is image making not true wildlife photography where the subject becomes a commodity in order to facilitate those paying guests. Where the photographer has given no real explanation to how and what was behind the image.
The photographer has a duty of care not only to the wildlife but also to the general public who view your work. And in my eyes if you do this for a living and you work in this manner than you should have the integrity to tell those that judge you how you got the image and what skills you used in the pursuit of such an image. Wildlife is not a commodity in which you use to make money from one minute then try and use it as a vehicle to promote your own interests and cause the next.
What I’ve always tired to offer with my workshops here in the UK and abroad is an experience, a true moment in nature where you have learned how to work the land, learned abit about the subject and other skills. The hope is you go home afterwards and apply these skills learned and apply them to your own photography, this is my aim and what’s behind my workshops/trips.
Those clients that have spent time with me really benefit from this approach and learn much more in my eyes. Many have wrote their own thoughts on my Testimonials page which can be seen here.
So with all this in mind I have launched my competition today and its meant to empower those that enter to work in a more ethical way, love wildlife first and foremost and the rest will fall into place I believe. Its open to anyone and by showing a total understanding of your craft and the ethics behind the image you send in. I will look forward to seeing all these images and the winner will learn more of what they have already demonstrated with their winning image.
The competition will run from the 1st October until the 21st October. The winners will be announced by Friday 25th October. You don’t have to have any fancy camera gear, or be a pro or think you’re not good enough if you think you have a nice shot your proud of and its a truly wild moment then enter. The prize is the One to One day with me. Where I will show you everything I know, how I work and it will be fun at the same time very rewarding in terms of knowledge shared and fieldcraft learned.
Please email/message your image at 600 x 600 and 72dpi to my Craig Jones Wildlife Photography facebook page here.
The rules are very simple:-
1. Anyone, any standard may enter the competition.
2. Only one entry per person.
3. The competition is open only to UK residents.
4. Your image must be completely wild were nothing has been changed by the hand of man.
5. The competition will run from October 1st until Monday 21st October.
6. The winner will be announced by Friday 25th October.
I would then like a brief explanation of the story behind the image as I am very strong on this and again it tells the full story to those not lucky enough to have been there when the image was taken.
Good Luck to everyone who enters.