I’ve been looking through old photos recently, from when I was first starting to explore the world of nature photography. The bird photos are interesting, because they’re all very similar. Frame-filling images of birds doing not much. Standing. Perching. A little later, when I started getting better at tracking birds in flight, there are a handful of decent flight shots. The birds are usually slap in the middle of the frame. There are a handful of good photos, but these were mostly accomplished by accident and not any particular skill.
See, at the start of my journey, I was intent on getting good photos of birds, without any real consideration of how good the photo itself was. The bird was the focus – so bugger everything else. I think, for me, this is because I started out as a birdwatcher first, and a photographer second. Part of my evolution as a photographer and developing my skills was learning to zoom out, take a step back, and think about the image as a whole. Think about the composition, the story of the image, beyond “Hey look at this cool bird”. The first four images in this post are some of the better results of my early attempts at bird photography.
I’ve also been looking at the photos I’ve been taking recently (below). These are photos I never would have taken at those early stages. I still take frame-filling photos of birds, but now I try and do other things as well. Show birds in their environment. Give my images more context. Be more responsive to the conditions I’m in, rather than trying to shoot some preconceived idea of what I should shoot.
I hope that in a few years I’ll look back on the photos I’m taking now in the same way I look at my photos from a few years ago. That I’ll have developed new skills, and my focus will have shifted again. I’ll be a different person, taking different photos, but all built on the work I’ve been doing since I first picked up a camera all those years ago.