Nearly 30 years ago my first job (after three years at college in London studying film, television and photography) was as a photographer supplying pictures predominantly for the Newbury Weekly News. It was then and remains today a bastion of that tradition of bringing well presented honest, and balanced reporting on matters which concern its readership. Not easy to do in this environment of a never ending chase for sensationalist headlines in an attempt to satiate the demand of the 24hrs a day news world we find ourselves in. The NWN (Newbury Weekly News) and similar publications maintain space within their pages to present the 'good' things happening in society, and promote the environments they represent.
The benefits of the natural environment around us, taking an interest in the issues and promoting its protection, should be clear for all to see. My daughter Ellie and I are lucky that we live in an area of outstanding natural beauty, with access to some beautiful countryside right on our doorstep, something we try never to take for granted. The pair of us photograph what we see and by sharing those images we hope to entertain yes, but also remind others of that natural beauty, which in turn reinforces the responsibility we all have to respect and protect it. Recently we were delighted to be approached by the NWN who had been following our posts on Instagram, to see if we would be interested in supplying some of our wildlife pictures of 'close ups of flowers and insects' for an article in the paper. Talk about full circle.... We both thought it a great idea and so I wrote the article you see in the image above, which includes pictures taken by Ellie and myself. With such a large double page spread there is more opportunity to use different formats for the images which fit the subject matter better,and also create more impact. We were able to print a wide, almost panoramic image of a wildflower meadow with a perfect sky, and a poppy field (with no sky and thus keeping focus on the poppies themselves - and Ellie there for scale...) to create more impact and draw the viewer in.
The close-ups, and extreme close-ups then really draw attention to the beauty in the very minute details of which the scenes are made up from. Sometimes that singular beauty of a flower, or a butterfly wing, can be overlooked, lost in the larger scene.
What I love about Instagram and the band of photographers and lovers of the natural environment whom I follow, and who follow me, is that it gives us the opportunity to share images of the beauty around each of us, highlighting the different flora and fauna in locations right across the world. You can tell the shared passion people have for their environments, it's infectious. It's not an environmental movement as such but by helping people love and appreciate something, you're well on the way to helping them respect it and perhaps want to protect it.
As a child I took apart a pair of binoculars and used the lens as a crude macro lens for my first camera. I was thrilled to show my family the close up images of the wasps and wildlife I found in the garden (after the near two week wait for the prints to return to me in the post...). I don't now, and didn't then, expect everyone who sees a picture I've taken to start jumping up and down with excitement, or suddenly exclaiming how it's changed their outlook on the world in general. But occasionally, just occasionally, I guess I do hope that in some small way the odd photograph will cause someone to stop and look for more than just a couple of seconds (the average time any image has to arrest the gaze of the onlooker) and just 'get it'. It's the art, the role of the photographer to do just that. Create images which have some effect on the observer.
When I look at the image of the Holly Blue butterfly on the purple geranium the first thing that hits me is the intense colour. The colour draws me in, I then notice the minute detail and fragility of both the flower and butterfly, and it reinforces my appreciation for both, and the natural environment they are representative of.
I have covered many stories both here and abroad, some joyful, some heartbreaking, some local, some national, as well as covering too many corporate and marketing assignments to count. Fundamentally I want every picture to be appreciated and have some effect, no matter how small, on the person looking at it. No matter if that is a social media portrait shot, or a documentary image of orphans in Chernigov (I was on one of the first aid convoys allowed into Russia in 1996 to deliver supplies to an orphinage, following the Chernobyl tragedy years before - but that's another story). Photography of the natural world is no different. By sharing your images you are in some small way drawing attention to the subject matter. How you present them can help influence what others take away from seeing the pictures, once they process that information along with other inputs like the attitude they had previously to the subject.
For many the various social media platforms have become their sole way of getting their images published, but there is nothing quite like seeing your pictures in print. I have had photographs published in most national newspapers, as well as magazines and books, and I never lose that thrill of seeing my pictures in print, and I hope I never do.