Nature photography can be a tough business and thesedays it’s damned difficult to get even a toehold on the ladder. It’s not always possible but when it is, we like to try and help young photographers/naturalists progress their career and/or personal development. I recently received a letter from Laura Mackay, a photography student and as it turned out, a thoroughly pleasant young woman. She joined our group on a ‘Fish Eaters’ tour and in return for her place, I asked for a blog post. This is what she sent me:
I am an aspiring photographer who was undecided on which field of photography to pursue until recently when I hooked up with Peter Cairns (Pete) on one of his “Fish Eaters” tours. Everything about this experience was new to me. I had never been in a hide before, I had never seen an osprey before and I certainly hadn’t seen what 4 o’clock in the morning looked like, and although there was a lot of hanging about, I can honestly say that these four days were the best experiences of my life.
I thought that getting up at 3.30 in the morning would prove difficult but I was so excited that it became second nature. Leaving The Steading (our base) at 4am, we headed out for 4/5 hours to sit in a wooden hide to try to get some shots of the ospreys diving for fish. This isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but seeing the ospreys diving just metres in front of me was incredible. Every time I heard the word ‘diving’ come over the radio adrenaline kicked in – hands on camera, finger on the trigger, eyes peeled, it was like a little routine I had going on, as I wanted each shot to be better than the last one.
Later in the day we tried for dolphins on the Black Isle but they weren’t really playing ball. This in itself is a lesson I learned – that if you want to be a wildlife photographer you have to have a great deal of patience!
Being on this tour was one of the best things I have ever done, I met some very interesting people with fascinating stories of their travels around the globe, with amazing photographic evidence to back these up. I learned so much from Pete and the other guests, I was the youngest guest there (and the only Scot) but I didn’t feel at all left out. Since the other guests were from different countries then it added more interest and culture to the group, they were all so kind and friendly and keen to get to know me, and once everyone had settled in, and gotten to know one another, we had some great laughs, and some captivating stories were exchanged.
Seeing Pete’s work and how he produces it and how well he gets on with people really inspired me. I went on that tour with an open mind and not knowing what to expect but when I left I felt inspired. When I left to get home, I was so ‘gutted’ that the experience was over, I didn’t want it to end. However I also couldn’t wait to go home and tell my friends and family how it went and show them my images. When I left I was still ‘buzzing’ (or ‘excited’ for those who aren’t a 20 year old girl) it made me realise what field I want to pursue in photography. I am so thankful for my stroke of good luck but I am even more thankful to Pete, my eyes have been opened and I now realise that if you want something bad enough, and if you work hard enough, goals can be achieved.
Just one thing Laura – we do know what ‘buzzing’ means! The cheek of it.