Introduce yourself and what you do
Hi! My name is Michael, but I go by James for James E Photography. I work full-time in the health sector, but my really passion is nature and wildlife photography.
When did you decide to become a photographer?
I suppose I never really decided to become a photographer, it wasn’t something I actively considered doing. I had initially wanted to be a chef, and then a police officer, and so on, but I got my first camera in 2013 and began to teach myself the basics. I was especially pleased when I taught myself how to focus the camera manually rather than on automatic! Over time I grew more passionate about photography and began to view it as a way to create foundations for stories.
What appeals to you about wildlife photography in particular?
The reason I got into wildlife photography rather than portraits or anything was to do with my view of people as being generally… awkward! Unless you are taking photos of someone who is used to being in front of a camera it’s difficult to take relaxed images. Animals, on the other hand, don’t argue back. Sure, they might run away when you’re about to take the perfect shot. And yeah, you might spend hours waiting around for an animal that will never turn up… but at least they don’t make taking pictures into an awkward process!
Tell us a bit about the Wild Beasts Project and what inspired it.
Like the rest of my experience with photography, Wild Beasts Project was kind of a mistake! I was taking photos in 2015, with no aim at all but to get some shots which looked kind of okay. Then, couple of months later I was sifting through the images I’d taken and decided I hated the background of pretty much all of them, so I edited them black with the intention of making the animals the complete focus of the image. Over time, this evolved to become the Wild Beasts Project which I have now produced two series’ of, with the second series being launched in it’s own solo exhibition at an art gallery.
Do you have a shot of that you’re particularly proud of, or a moment that stands out in your memory from a time you were taking photos?
Aside from the images in the ‘Wild Beast Project’, I recently shot my two of my favourite photographs of birds. One of these was taken in the last two weeks. The other, an image of a robin, was taken around Christmas time when it had recently snowed. The latter has been viewed over 200,000 times since it’s release online.
What advice would you give to students interested in becoming wildlife / nature photographers?
My advice to anyone considering taking these kinds of images is to take your time. Some days it’ll be impossible to get a good photo, because you have to work with your surroundings, but every day will bring something new.
To begin with, get a camera that is fairly simple to use rather than the most expensive one you can afford (I would personally recommend a Canon). Once you’ve chosen your equipment, take a long walks or just sit in your garden, you never what creatures will turn up if you’re patient enough.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment I don’t have many future plans besides releasing some of my collections in the form of books, starting with the Wild Beasts Project. I’m enjoying concentrating on organising and updating my website and social media platforms, but it’s always great to get out and take more pictures too. Feel free to check out my website and follow me on Instagram and Uplash!
About the author: Michael works full-time in the health sector, but is currently pursuing his passion for nature and wildlife photography.