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BEHIND THE LENS: Wildlife Photography Series

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

A sit down with Matt to discuss his experiences in wildlife photography.

Why do you like wildlife as a subject for your photography?

I like animals as a subject because the process of photography animals is unpredicatable and the results are raw. It’s…natural. It is capturing life. It is not staged or false, it’s 100% real.

Tell us about the different places you go to photograph animals

There are the bush safaris out in South Africa to capture the African animals…there is the wilderness of America that I went to in order to capture the wolves…Photography of wildlife for me is being out in the open and not knowing where they are coming from. It’s not the same as going to the zoo and taking photos because that can be quite staged. Even though they are still wild animals they are captive animals so you know where they are, you know exactly what environment they are going to be in, whereas out in the wild you have this sense of uncertainty, you need to have the patience that the animals will come to you.

Where is your favourite place to photograph wildlife?

For me it has been seeing the wolves up close and person. They are just magnificent animals. So they’ve been my favourite subject. I’d go back to photograph them again in a heartbeat.

Tell us about your process when photographing animals

When photographing wildlife you don’t want to be too close to them, so a telephoto lens is what I recommend people use and is an essential part of my kit. You’ll be able to get more natural shots and capture them in a relaxed state. If you try and get too close you risk them either running or when I was in Africa there was a very real risk of them coming after you. So I would use a telephoto lens and focus on remaining calm and still. With this kind of photography they could be there one second and gone the next so there is that pressure there but if you are not come the animals can definitely sense it. And you always want to be downwind from the animals so they can’t smell you. I don’t wear cologne or deodorant when photographing wildlife either because they can smell it and some of them react to it, they know it is not a natural scent in their environment. It’s all about blending in with the natural environment. Clothing is another thing to consider. Depending on the time of year you may want to wear muted colours so that you are not spotted so easily. You have to remember that these are wild animals - as cute as they are they can also in some cases be deadly so you don’t want to get too close to them.

It is incredible because in some of these photographs you look like you were so close to the animals. Let’s take a moment to talk about your image ‘Leopard in a tree’. Do you remember how you captured the photo?

So we were in the jeep because again you don’t want to be too out in the open. The leopard was watching its prey so it was distracted. We stopped out the front of the tree a fair distance out and I used the telephoto lens to capture that photo.

When it comes to the editing choices you’ve made with that image, and your wildlife photos in general, do you have a preference when it comes to colour or black or white?

Editing is something that evolves over time for me. How I would’ve edited that image back in 2014 is not how I would edit the image today. Preferences change, trends change….and it is something that is really quite great because you take a photo that you captured years ago and create something original from it. With this image I’ve played around with a range of different edits - all in colour, the leopard in colour and the background completely black to allow the leopard to really pop, black and white….even how I edit a black and white image is a different process now in terms of experimenting with contrast and highlighting. So to answer your question I don’t have a preference - it depends on the subject and also what I am feeling from the image at the time. And different edits work in different spaces for different people so I like to provide some options so people can choose what speaks to them.

Why do you feel that wildlife photography works so well as a piece of artwork in somebody’s home?

Everybody loves animals. It’s not often we get to experience seeing animals we love in the wild, especially when we are losing more and more animals due to deforestation and other factors each year. Wildlife photography allows you to see the animals you love and get some joy from that.

To purchase a wildlife print by Matt, please visit our online store or email us at .

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