I have to be honest when colleague Chris Gomersall told me he was doing a book on…wait for it…wildlife photography, my eyes glazed over. How many more books do we need on shutter speed, aperture settings and ISO ratings? So in truth when a copy landed on my doormat the other day, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit to rip it open. But open it I did and I’ve got to say that once I started reading, I couldn’t stop; even Coronation St came and went and I was still absorbed.
Wildlife Photographer is not a techie manual, in fact Chris barely makes mention of camera gear and settings (and well done for that I say). This is an educated, insightful exploration of the concept of wildlife photography and is very much aimed at the thinking photographer. From an intelligent (and experienced) viewpoint, Chris examines themed creativity, conservation story-telling, multimedia and lots more besides. Without apology, he addresses the thorny issue of digital manipulation and captive subjects – something most others conveniently shy away from. The images are great – that goes without saying – but what impressed me most was Chris’ articulate writing, which is concise, balanced and perceptive.
I’m sure Chis wouldn’t mind me saying that he’s been around a while and in many ways, comes from what is commonly referred to as the ‘old school’. In this book it is evident that Chris’ philosophy is anything but old school and the reader is treated to quite a rare marriage: a lifetime of experience with a contemporary perspective – and a firm grip on reality thrown in to boot.
If this book had indeed turned out to be another ‘how to’ manual, I’d probably be struggling to offer much in way of recommendation. It isn’t that and for anyone who cares about their photography and where this funny old business is heading, I’d offer only one piece of advice: Buy this book. It captures the essence of wildlife photography in 2012 better than anything I’ve read before.