PUBLISHED: 10:53 10 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:53 10 November 2015
Wildlife photographer and regular Suffolk magazine contributor Kevin Sawford is among the 2015 British Wildlife Photography Awards winners. Kevin won the British Seasons category for his stunning images of roe deer in four seasons
How did you get started with photography?
I started photography when I was around eight or nine years old. My father has always been into photography and was a countryside officer, so this is where my photography and wildlife watching all began. My road to becoming a professional began in my mid-twenties when I started to take photography more seriously. I was looking at becoming a sports photographer, but after I came back from a safari in Africa in 2003 I decided that wildlife was going to be my main focus. By building up my portfolio of images I was selected by an agency to sell my images with them and after having an exhibition at the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Lackford Lakes I was asked by the trust to run a course there which now sees me running a range of courses across the trust’s reserves.
What are the essentials for taking a good wildlife picture?
I really enjoy teaching the photography courses I’m involved with. Giving people confidence about their cameras and proving to them that they can take excellent images with their own equipment is very satisfying. I believe to take a good wildlife image firstly you need to know the fundamentals of your camera – knowing how your camera works and the functions needed so you are in control. What I mean by this is coming off your camera’s automatic functions, and learning which functions and settings are required for the situation you are looking to photograph.
The other important factor is the more you know about your subject the more you’re likely to predict what it’s going to do. By learning the behaviour and knowing the location you can be ready to capture the moment you are after. In wildlife, action or behaviour may only last a few seconds, and you may have had to wait hours for it, so by having your camera set correctly, and by predicting what’s going to happen, you give yourself the best chance of capturing it. One of the best places to hone your skills is a local duck pond. Throughout the year you can photograph all sorts of behaviour while learning new camera techniques.
I cannot deny having good equipment does help with certain photographic situations, such as moving subjects, but it really comes down to what you want from your photography. I’ve seen plenty of good images from phones and tablets.
What’s your favourite animal to photograph?
The roe deer. They’re such an elegant species, plus they’re very elusive so it’s always a challenge to photograph them. A very close second is the brown hare. I enjoy photographing them across the region, and the small population on RSPB Havergate island is probably my favourite Suffolk location.
What does it mean to win an award like the BWPA?
Winning the British Seasons category is very satisfying and to feature alongside some of the UK’s leading wildlife photographers is very special. It gives me confidence that my photography is of a standard that’s been recognised in this prestigious competition. I am very honoured to be asked again to be a judge of this year’s Suffolk Wildlife Trust photographic competition. I’m certainly impressed with the quality, there are some talented photographers in this area.
How can people learn more from you?
I run all of the photography workshops for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. We’re currently putting together the 2016 programme that will feature beginners’ courses and specific courses at a number of the trust’s reserves.
I also tutor for Wild Adventures Under Suffolk skies, which runs days on RSPB Havergate Island throughout the year. And I offer bookings for individuals and groups wanting to arrange their own days. I’m available to present a number of talks to camera clubs or natural history groups.
boxwww.kevinsawford.com, Facebook at Kevin Sawford Photography, Twitter @KSawfordphoto.