Wildlife Cameraman Blog

Category Archives: Wildlife Cameraman Careers Advice

Wildlife cameraman careers advice in bite-sized chunks, taking in educational choices, personality traits and practical skills.

Watching Wild Life

Watching Wild Life

‘Watching Wild Life’. It’s a small point, perhaps, but you don’t see those words written quite like that any more. You’re more likely to see ‘watching wildlife.’ Wildlife cameraman, the job title, is a label, but equally, Wild Life Cameraman could be too. Is there a difference? I think there is.

A lot of what wildlife cameramen film is not actually wild at all. But ask any wildlife cameraman what they would prefer to film and it would be wild life, for sure. I’m on about the type of filming where you conceal yourself for hours, maybe days, on end. It’s the type of filming where the subject is shy, rarely seen by anyone unless they’re either very lucky or have made a huge effort. I’m not for one moment criticising the filming of subject matter that is relatively tame, because almost all wildlife filming comes with huge challenges. I’m just saying that wildlife filming as a career, becoming a wildlife cameraman, attracts a certain sort of person, there’s something feral about it. There’s some sort of connection with wild creatures deep in your spirit. Sadly, I don’t think there is so much of this filming to be had any more, unless you go out and do it for the hell of it. Sometimes it can be hell, I suppose, but it’s what we do.

watching wild life by David Stephen
Watching wild life by David Stephen

It was the title of the book above that made me ponder about wildlife versus wild life. The book was written by David Stephen, a Scottish naturalist. The link tells a little about David’s many achievements over the years.

To me this isn’t just any old book. This is the book that I picked up in Chepstow Bookshop when I was 12 or 13 years old. The shop owner must have wondered whether I would ever buy it. Every Friday, after school, I’d go in, procrastinating about spending my hard earned lawn mowing money on a small paperback. I knew that I’d get it eventually. What a little gem this book is. It’s written by someone who had been out there watching badgers, foxes, otters and whole range of wild life. I found it to be absolutely inspirational, and it’s the book that had me walking across the fields in the dark looking for badgers and goodness knows what else.

 

International Association of Wildlife Filmmakers (IAWF)

I have been a member of the IAWF for some years now.  The association was founded in 1982 to encourage communication and co-operation between people who are often isolated in the field., rarely meeting fellow professionals doing a similar job to themselves. The IAWF is association for professional camera men and women and sound recordists earning most of their income from making wildlife films. The IAWF’s worldwide membership includes many of the leading names in wildlife filmmaking industry.

Recently I joined the committee of the IAWF.  I’m a wildlife cameraman, and I don’t think my personality is much different to all the other cameramen and camerawomen around the world.  Being on a committee does not come naturally, but keeping and association like the IAWF alive, relevant and active is very important. In the last year or so one of the committee members put forward the idea of an affiliation with The Guild of Television Cameramen (GTC). The GTC was formed in 1972 and now has over 1000 members in countries as far afield as Australia, South Africa, the USA, Russia and Singapore. The majority live in the UK, are mainly freelance and work in all aspects of broadcast camerawork from corporate production and shoots for the internet through to mainstream news and current affairs, documentary and television drama. The affiliation of the IAWF and GTC is moving ahead very efficiently and it a very exciting prospect for current IAWF members.

We have been chasing current IAWF members for contact details to enable to affiliation to be 100% complete and efficient, but there are a few far-flung camera people out there who are proving difficult to contact or get a response from.  This is my last ditch call. Hello any outstanding IAWF members.  If you are not aware of the affiliation with the GTC, or if you are but have not returned the form, please get in touch with our secretary as soon as you possibly can. Cheers.

Wildlife observation

For anyone looking at being a wildlife cameraman as a career here is another opinion that might be useful.  Wherever you are in the world there will be ‘wildlife things’ going on.  If you are really interested in wildlife you will be on almost constant alert to what is happening around you.  This can, I warn, be very boring for friends who are not of the same inclination.  They may even think that you are talking absolute rubbish.  The other day I heard the house martins above start alarm calling, which is usually the sign that some sort of avian predator is about.  We were near some fishing ponds, and lo and behold a hobby shot across.  I mentioned this to the person I was with, then showed them what the bird was in an identification guide.  They said that they had seen one before but hadn’t realised what it was.  It’s a great way of extending your wildlife knowledge.

Very near to home I have been keeping an eye on the roses this year.  They’re very nice, chosen more for their scent than anything else.  Over the last couple of years leaf cutting bees have been taking chunks out of the leaves and stuffing them in holes in fences posts.  Sometimes I see them fly with these leaves miles away across the roof tops.  Just seeing this prompts you to check out the species, what it is doing, its breeding status and so on.  Hence this becomes a very personal learning experience, sparked by something that you have observed yourself.

Rose sawfly caterpillar
Rose sawfly caterpillars

Bees aren’t the only creatures that love our roses.  We don’t like using poisons in our garden.  The roses probably suffer a bit as a result.  The caterpillars above practically demolished a small part of this rose bush (rose sawfly caterpillar).  There was a small pile of dead leaves underneath it, but the plant as a whole bloomed well.

grey dagger moth caterpillar
Grey dagger moth caterpillar

The hairy beast above is the caterpillar of a grey dagger moth.  I have never moth trapped our garden, but seeing this makes me think I should, just to see what is likely to be fluttering around at night.  How could you spray chemicals on a creature like that?  Maybe this is a wildlife cameraperson trait, or maybe just of someone with an ounce of compassion for other life.

Anyway, having got lost in all that, the moral is about observation and following up on that observation.  A bank of field knowledge will serve you well in your wildlife cameraman career.

Careers Advice

Forgive me for being flippant, but sometimes I can’t help it.  Are other wildlife camera people like this?  Probably.  In fact most of the ones I know are. It’s just too much for me to write a piece covering all aspects of wildlife cameraman careers advice, so here is another of my bite-sized snippets: –… Continue Reading