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Andrew Camden-Smith Photography & Conservation

The Photographer In Me – Found, Lost And Found Again!

I have always had a long time love of wildlife photography and nature in general, inspired by my dad, who was a vet and was raised in South Africa. His love of animals, as well as his childhood stories along with documentaries featuring a certain Mr Attenborough made the 6 year old me dream of doing something similar. Well I didn’t fancy being a vet and Mr Attenborough’s job never came up in the local jobs paper. However, I did end up following my passion for photography. To be precise a commercial photographer, basically that means I photographed products and people for catalogues, point of sale images, brochures etc. Although it wasn’t exactly Nat’ Geo’ I loved the twenty years I spent doing it and met some wonderful people along the way too.

My inspiration growing up - David Attenborough

Why Did I Stop Being A Photographer?

I get asked this quite a lot. When I started my photographic journey film reigned supreme. Cameras were not all singing and dancing digital ones. I predominantly used a 5″ X 4″ Sinar P studio camera. For location work more often than not a Hassleblad medium format camera.

As time went by though, as with many industries change in the form of technology came along. Computers appeared and with them digital cameras. These early incarnations were, in my opinion, slow, expensive and the image quality frankly awful. But the industry demanded they wanted digital files that they could manipulate in photo editing software – you know the one I mean. The straw which finally broke the camels back for me was when a fresh faced ad guy straight out of uni’ told me not to worry about lighting the subject to much as they could do it on the computer! To me photography is the art of light. I decided if this is how the industry is going count me out.

Roll on a few years and I, like the technology have moved on. I now own a digital SLR and decided to have a go at rekindling some of my childhood dreams.

For studio photography I used a Sinar P 5"X4" camera

OMG…Nature Moves!

I know an obvious statement, but you have to remember I was used to photographing shoes, perfume, furniture, jewellery, basically things that stayed put. Another bonus of being a studio photographer is the “sun” stays exactly where you put it, even if you go for lunch! So moving to an environment where I had no control over any aspect has been challenging to say the least.

Taking images of moving subjects was a new photography concept to me

The other steep learning curve has been the kit. At the moment I have a Nikon D7100 with a 70-300mm lens. It’s a nice little set up. But, to be honest a Nikon D500 coupled with a 150-600mm lens would be my ideal choice. Why you ask. Well the thing with nature is many of its inhabitants are quite small and find us humans a bit of a worry – can you blame them? Add to the fact I’m not exactly a ninja and you can see why a kit upgrade would be a bonus.

The Conservationist In Me

I’ve always loved nature, but conservation and looking after the planet is a recent adventure for me. If you read my Conservation page you’ll see the phrase “I can remember when all this was fields”. Sadly it’s true, this coupled with noticing a distinct absence of birds and animals which were plentiful when I was a child got me to thinking. That thought now means I have a Diploma in Conservation.

“This green and pleasant land” We are very lucky to live in a country with such diverse landscapes. The rolling hills of Devon, the Norfolk Broads to the mountains and moors of North Wales and Scotland. My worry is projects like HS2 and more runways will mean we are left with considerably less green and pleasant land. No, I’m not going to glue myself to a train or deface buildings. I do however, support organisations, like the wildlife trusts. Who campaign for our decision makers to stop and think and try to give nature a voice.

In an ideal world I’d love to be part of one of these organisations. Getting my diploma is hopefully the first step on the ladder to achieving this. As for the photography, just keep an eye on National Geographic 🙂