Wildlife photographers Lawrie Brailey and Alannah Hawker are currently showing their exhibition ‘A Wild Life,’ in the Riverside Gallery. Running until the 31st August, ‘A Wild Life’ showcases some of Britain’s favourite creatures, as Lawrie and Alannah prove that good wildlife photography doesn’t just have to be of exotic animals from the plains of Africa or South American jungles but can be captured far closer to home and be just as beautiful. We caught up with the talented photographers to gain an insight into their working practice and proudest achievements so far.
What are you working on at the moment?
Lawrie Brailey: Currently, I am working on a series of urban red fox images. I have always had a soft spot for foxes and it fascinates me how close their lives intertwine with ours without many people even knowing that they’re there.
Alannah Hawker: I’m always working on different ideas, but my work can often be dictated by what I see at the time, as wildlife is very unpredictable! I am currently trying to find a good spot for owls, but am not having much luck unfortunately. I have also just started a series based around the birds at my local lake. People see them all the time and don’t pay much attention to them, but I’m hoping to use my photos to show them in a slightly different light.
What medium do you use in your practice and why?
LB: I use a Nikon D4 with a variety of lenses ranging from 16mm to 300mm. Other equipment depends on the shot I am trying to take.
AH: I use a Canon 7D Mk.II and a variety of lenses. My most used lens is a Canon 100-400 Mk.II. I really like using this lens as it gives me a lot of versatility to ensure I’m ready for whatever the animals decide to do! I’ve also been recently making use of a wide-angle lens. This gives a great new perspective and allows me to include much more of the environment within my shot.
What motivates you to make work, who do you believe has influenced your career and inspired you to start?
LB: In the world of wildlife photography, most people immediately think of the ‘sexy species’ (big cats, bears, wolves etc). The UK is rarely considered a great location for wildlife photography, but it has so much to offer and I love trying to uncover some of this amazing nature. There are several other photographers trying to do the same and their work is of great inspiration to me. People like Richard Peters in the UK and Bence Máté and Nick Brandt in the rest of the world always have me collecting my jaw from the ground.
AH: I think the natural world in general inspires me a lot. Seeing the beauty of our great British wildlife, which is often underappreciated, really makes me want to go out and watch and photograph it all. I get a lot of inspiration from photos I see around the Internet too, often by unknown photographers.
If you could name one, what is your favourite piece of work you have created, and why?
LB: The photo that I am most pleased with would probably be ‘Deer Train’, my shot of a stag bellowing during the rut. The clouds of breath last for less than a second and it took several attempts to catch three in a row!
AH: I think my favourite piece of work is a photo named ‘Division’. The image is of a fox looking directly down the camera, but half of the fox is in shadow. This effect is something I achieved in camera and works by using the natural light available. I’d had the picture in mind for a while but, because it uses natural light, it had to be in a certain position and intensity for the image to work. Then, of course, the fox had to be sat in the right piece of light facing the right way, which is very difficult; they never usually go where you want them too! I’m really happy that all the pieces came together, it took weeks of trying, but definitely worth it!
If you can name one, what is your proudest achievement?
LB: After being lucky enough to win a wildlife photographic competition several years ago, I was lucky enough to win a trip to Finland to find and photograph Brown bears in the wild. It was an amazing trip and I was able to photograph bears, eagles and wolverines in their natural habitat – something I have always longed to do.
AH: The achievement I am most proud of is when BBC Springwatch invited me onto their show to speak live about my wildlife photography. It was a very scary moment appearing live on TV, but an amazing thing to be invited onto such a big show!
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
LB:Though it might seem obvious, I would have to say the camera! Other than that, my recent purchase of a 135mm f/1.8 lens has enabled me to explore much more of the world under the cover of darkness.
AH: Quite an easy question for me, I can’t live without my right-angled viewfinder. It’s a very clever little device that I can attach to my camera so that I can shoot very low down photos without having to get into awkward positions to be able to see through the camera. It makes it a lot easier to see what I’m taking picture of, which always helps!
Where is your favourite place to see art?
LB: Although the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition always makes my jaw drop, I am also amazed by the world of many lesser-known photographers whose work sadly doesn’t not see similar exposure. There are so many incredibly talented photographers in the UK who do not get the exposure their work deserves and I always love finding a new artist to follow.
AH: I like art wherever it is; I see lots of art at fairs and things and always really enjoy seeing what people do. However, my favourite place is when the Mall Galleries in London show the ‘British Wildlife Photography Awards’. The photos here are a great inspiration for me and really push me to go out and try new things with my work.
Riverside Café Gallery, Farnham Maltings
03 August– 31 August 2018 (free exhibition during Café opening hours)