2015 has been a great year for me and the year when my photography and company have moved forward the most.
The year started out with a bang with my 1st success in a major photographic competition Outdoor Photographer Of The Year. I was happy to find out my image "The Last Catch" of a coastal brown bear fishing at sunset was awarded runner up in the Wildlife Insight category. This image had become one of my favourites as It was not just about the image but the realization of a dream, since being a young child growing up watching wildlife documentaries from distant lands. I have always had a deep fascination with bears and to finally have the opportunity to visit Alaska and to watch and photograph these bears for myself was something I will never forget.
My second big success of the year & perhaps my biggest highlight of the year was being awarded in the Palmares Nature Image Awards 2015 with the image 'Over Stormy Seas'. This competition attracted some of the biggest names in the wildlife photographic industry and for me to see my name amongst some of my biggest photographic inspirations is a real privilege. A big congratulations goes to all the other awarded photographers in particular good mate Andy Parkinson, who's awesome hare & swan images are also awarded in the competition & a big thanks goes to him for giving me the opportunity to camp up on Hermaness with him earlier this year.
Following on from this in February after a few visits myself to Poland I had the pleasure of leading a group of 5 clients to a special hide with the hope of photographing while tailed sea eagles. . The tour was run in partnership with NaturesLens (Next years tour is already filling up fast for more info click here) . This site has been attracting large numbers of eagles during the Winter months. There are already a lot of established sites across Europe for photographing these raptors and everybody has their own personal preference on what site they prefer be it Poland, Hungary, Norway or the Isle Of Mull to name a few but the one thing you cant take away from this site is the volume of birds that visit each morning,
Unluckily I have now gone 3 visits to this site without snow so hopefully 4th time lucky (judging by the long range forecast this could be our year). As is often said about these tours they are not made by the great photographic opportunities but that does help, But by the people on the tour and I had a cracking group of people so when then the shutters were not firing we all had a good laugh which helped the long days in the hides pass.
The second tour I ran in 2015 was with good pal, Norwegian wildlife photographer and guide Floris Smeets. This tour is unique from all other Musk Ox tours as we hiked deep into the park using a remote mountain cabin as our base for the tour. It is a relatively long hike to get to the cabin meaning a very small percentage of photographers make it this deep into the park. But this allows us to to get unique shots of the Musk Ox, by hiking deep into the park grant us access to much harsher environments than at the lower elevations. Meaning we can photograph the Musk Ox in stunning landscapes, including beautiful lakes, rivers & waterfalls. During the tour we managed to get nearly every condition you can think of including snow & sun together for a short period.
I was really happy to say that the tour was a complete success in the end. That much so that the clients on the tour had already booked to come back the following year before the tour had ended. It was a great trip I cannot remember the last time I have laughed that much. Thanks to Stu & Gill for being awesome clients and I am already looking forward to meeting up a few times again next year. If anybody would like any further info about the Wild Dovrefjell tour then please drop me an email on here or message me on facebook.
THE SUMMER OF PUFFINS
I had two big UK projects in 2015 the first being the ever comical Atlantic Puffin. This idea started way back in 2014 when I was preparing my images for the upcoming BWPA competition I came to the conclusion that my British wildlife portfolio was much weaker than I would have liked. This was mainly due to spending most of 2014 travelling across the globe and not working as close to home as I should have. So I decided on two locations one being the beautiful Skomer Island and the other being the rugged coastline of the Shetland Isles. I chose these two locations over other popular UK puffins sites, as you can stay close to the puffins overnight meaning they can be photographed in the best light possible. I will not go into to much detail about my adventures with the puffins over the Summer as I am in the process of putting together a full blog & images from the Summer. Below is a few of my favourites images from the Summer.
TO THE END OF THE UK & BEYOND
My second big UK project in 2015 was to photograph Northern Gannets in a different light as they previously had. The idea was to photograph the gannets vertically from above as they soared over the stormy seas below. This would mean a trip up North with the tents & a whole lots of climbing equipment. Myself & Andy Parksinson had planned to spend 10 days camping on Hermaness, this would hopefully give us enough for the right conditions to materialize so we could achieve the images we had in mind. If you are looking for blue skies & sun Hermaness in September is not the place to go we had day upon day of thick fog which wiped out most days of photography. I am a massive fan of fog & moody conditions to create atmospheric shots.But when you cannot even see your hand in front of your face. It is time to leave the tents behind and get a well deserved hot meal in the UK's most Northerly cafe.
in true movie style it all came good in the end. The last two days on Hermaness offered up some of the best photographic opportunities I could have imagined and also some of the most exhilarating. As you can imagine hanging off a cliff in 50mph winds may not be everyone's cup of tea. But I am glad to say in the end it was mission achieved and I am really happy with the final series of images from the trip.
During the height of the Summer, I spent some time up in the Yorkshire Dales with the hope of photographing red grouse in the beautiful carpet of purple heather that covers the Dales in August. To be honest it was not a big project I only managed to spend a couple of mornings up there this year but it is a species I want to spend more time working with in 2016.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
2016 looks set to be one of my most exciting years to date. Once again I will working for one of the UK's leading photographic tour companies, NaturesLens, and guiding trips to Poland and Shetland. After a quick research trip earlier this year will be running my 1st tour deep into the Norwegian forests, to one of the best locations for photographing black grouse and capercaille at their traditional lekking sites to see more about this tour please click here.
Perhaps my most anticipated trip on 2016 will be getting back out to Dovrefjell in February. A few years back I was inspired by Vincent Munier's awesome images of the Musk Ox for the Wild Wonder Of Europe project. Since then I have always wanted to visit the park in the heart of Winter with the hope of photographing the Musk Ox in the harsh conditions they face during this time. So crazy as it may sound myself and good pal Floris Smeets have planned to spend some time camping in the park looking for the Musk Ox, with conditions down to -40 & deep snow this will not be easy. But I am always up for an adventure so bring it on.
Into 2016 throughout the year I will be working on a few projects much closer to home one in particular will be to attempt to photograph the secret life of mallards showcasing them in a new way than they have not been photographed before.
Finally, I would like to give a big thanks to everyone who have been on a tour with me this year. Or to anyone I have worked with or who have helped me over the past year in growing my photographic business.
I hope you all had a great Christmas, and here's wishing you a Happy New Year!