My name is James Evans and I’m a 23-year-old student studying a master’s degree in architecture in the UK. I have loved photography for as long as I can remember, taking pictures with basic point and shoot digital cameras with little understanding of the technical or artistic aspects. My dad is an enthusiastic photographer and he often passed on his knowledge to me, inspiring and educating me on the world of photography. Visiting various countries in my childhood, including Australia and America, gave me a passion for wildlife photography, capturing the moments I shared with some incredible animals.
After spending a few weeks of the summer of 2018 in the Canadian Rockies, and the incredible landscapes and wildlife inspired me to buy my first ‘proper’ camera. After researching, I concluded that a DSLR camera would be too expensive and would not give me the versatility I wanted. I decided I would buy a Panasonic LUMIX FZ330 Bridge Camera. This camera gave me a lens length of 25-600mm and an aperture range of f2.8/8. Armed with a somewhat basic setup, I plunged headfirst into the world of photography and spent my time indulging in some of the best nature reserves in my local area. The aim? To understand and get acquainted with my new kit, as well as try my hand at some real wildlife photography! I did a lot of waiting, travelling, practising, learning, early starts and late nights, and an awful lot of disappointment, but I wasn’t deterred because I absolutely loved how rewarding it was.
When Lockdown hit the UK, we were restricted from any non-essential travel, which obviously stopped me from venturing out to take photographs. However, I took this as a chance to expand my knowledge in a different direction. I started looking at my environment in more detail, photographing the wildlife I see every day and documenting these new behaviours.
I also took this unprecedented time as an opportunity to reach out to inspirational photographers, in an attempt to receive constructive criticism and feedback for work I had already taken. I reached out to Andrew Beck from Wild Eye, and we organised a virtual ‘lesson’ discussing some of my images and how to professionally edit in Lightroom, a software that I had a very limited understanding of. The help that I received in just half an hour was outstanding, and it took my photographic ability to another level. Andrew made it very clear that basic beginner gear was not a hindrance, and that it was more about the person behind the camera. This resonated with me, as sometimes everyone can get caught up in buying the most expensive lenses and thinking that it’s the driving force behind a good shot. I would love to show that this is not the case. After talking with Andrew and restrictions were eased, I began to think of photography in a new way, thinking about settings, composition, and the story. I could not believe the drastic improvements in my work. I received so much positive feedback from other people who noticed a clear change from after the call. It wasn’t long before we scheduled another call and the feedback was just as beneficial as before. We discussed a diverse array of useful tips and tricks, many of which I would have never even considered about. This includes animal behaviour, preparation for certain shots and a more complex understanding of wildlife photography as an art.
It has always been my dream to visit the stunning continent of Africa, the unbelievable biodiversity and variety of astonishing landscapes and habitats for wildlife is like nowhere else on the planet! The wide-open savannahs, lush wetlands, thick jungles, endless deserts and rugged mountains offer so many unique photographic opportunities. My ultimate goal is to go on a safari, and I know that when the time comes for me to go out into the African bush, I will have a new insight into making the most of the experience photographically and coming away with images that I can be proud of.
I’ve followed Wild Eye as a company for some time, but the help that I was given was so extraordinary, as I am just a young amateur photographer with a basic camera set up. I would truly love to one day go on a safari with Wild Eye, as the value they have added to my photographic ability was something I didn’t even consider to be possible in such a short time.