Photography News Issue 35

Photography News | Issue 35 |

Technique 22

Wildlife Life through a lens For a unique perspective on what makes wildlife shots work, and how an environmental approach can pay off, we caught up with Barrie Williams, winner of 2015’s British Wildlife Photography Awards, just before this year’s big BWPA reveal...

Words by Kingsley Singleton

Living the life You can tell straight away that Barrie likes to employ an environmental approach in his wildlife images, hence his shot’s placement in the BWPA’s Habitat category. This, he says, allows a fuller picture and more of an storytelling style. “Images can jump out for different reasons, but I think the key components of a great wildlife picture are composition, energy, and story,” he explains, describing it as a mix of candid moments and trying to convey an animal’s personality. Is there an example of that approach which inspired him? “Yes, the winning image from 2015’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year; A Tale of Two Foxes by DonGutoski. The subject

If you want to know what it takes to shoot great wildlife pictures, why not ask someone who’s won the UK’s biggest wildlife photography competition? Say ‘hello’ then to Barrie Williams who was the British Wildlife Photography Awards’ Overall Winner in 2015. His shot, On the edge, taken at Noss in the Shetland Isles and featuring swirling northern gannets above a brooding sea, was picked as the winner of the Habitat section, and he was subsequently crowned overall winner against stiff competition from some of the other images you’ll find on these pages. Now, with the BWPAset to announce 2016’s winners on 5 September, and a luxurious book of winning and highly commended entries

about to hit the shelves on the same day, we sat down with Barrie (more of whose work you can find at to discuss his winning entry, as well as his opinions on what it takes to produce striking animal shots. First off, that winning shot; how did it come about? “Visiting the Isle of Noss,” Barrie explains, “I was blown away by the sheer number of gannets. I studied the scene for a while, soaking in the seabird orchestra and thinking about how to convey this. Looking down, it appeared to me that the gannets far below looked like stars against the dark backdrop of the sea. Add to this the nests scattered across the cliffs and I knew I had found my image.”

The gannets far below looked like stars against the dark backdrop of the sea

Above Barrie Williams’ BWPA Overall and Habitat awards winner 2015: On the edge, featuring northern gannets.

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