Behind the Lens: Kent Photographer wins at the BWPA 2015

Terry Whittaker is a freelance photographer keen to explore the relationship between people and nature. He is also the Black and White category winner in this years British Wildlife Photography Awards.

Thousands of wildlife and photography fans have already visited the exhibition in the Beaney and are fascinated with the story behind the lens.  As such, we caught up with Terry to find out how he got started, what inspires him, and just how much planning was actually involved in capturing the perfect shot…

How did you get started in photography? Do you remember the first time you held a camera?

I first held a camera when I was about 16, when I first started to work in Zoos. I photographed the animals I looked after with a Kodak Instamatic. I still have some of the old prints. I didn’t start to take photography seriously until my late 20s to document my work and gradually it took over and I started to photograph professionally.

Can you tell us a little more about how you set out to take the photograph that won the Black and White category of the BWPA? Was it a long time planning? What do you like the most about this photograph?

There was little or no planning involved. I was working with a friend who lives on the edge of Cromarty Firth in Scotland. We run photography tours and workshops together. Every Autumn thousands of pink-footed geese arrive at the Firth on their way from Iceland. The photo was taken literally 5 minutes from his house. On this morning I could see the mist hanging over the Firth and knew the geese would rise through it as they fly off to their feeding grounds. I just waited.

Do you have a favourite subject to photograph?

It tends to be whatever I am working on at the time. At the moment I am photographing pine martens, again on the Black Isle, mostly using remote cameras that photograph the martens at night in the forest. There is also one of these images in the exhibition.

What motivates you to take pictures? 

Mostly conservation issues. For the past few years I have been photographing water voles, the UK’s fastest declining mammal. I am also interested in ecological restoration or rewilding.

How important are competitions such as the BWPA in your field?

Very. Competition success can raise your profile but more importantly, with the right photos, it provides the opportunity to engage people in issues they might not otherwise know about.

To view Terry’s stunning photograph, as well as other outstanding wildlife photography, visit the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2015 upstairs in the Beaney’s Special Exhibitions Room until Sunday 15 November 2015.

Admission to the exhibition is free but visitors are asked for a ‘pay what you can’ donation to support temporary exhibitions.

Image credit: British Nature In Black and White Winner Pink-Footed Geese In Mist, Black Isle, Highlands, Scotland Terry Whittaker

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