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.

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: –

You really do have to be able to get along with people.  That goes for many careers, but I think it is especially true of a film crew, particularly one that specialises in wildlife filming.  Invariably you spend a lot of time in the field together, eating together, living together, obviously working together and frequently travelling together.  If you’re not ‘together’ you don’t have a team.  If there is a job to do, offer to do it, be it making the tea or getting rid of the rubbish.  I know there are occasions when you will be a lone cameraman existing independently in the field for weeks at a time, but that is only one part of the job.

wildlife cameraman in Landrover
Wildlife filming team on route

I took this recently on a filming trip to the Yorkshire Dales.  What a happy crew we are.  Of course, it’s not always like this, but even when the rain is pouring down it’s remarkable how you can keep each other’s spirits up just by laughing about the situation.  If you were working on your own under duress you only have yourself to rely on.  On the other hand, and I don’t want to get too crude here, and mentioning no names, but you also have to put up with each other’s bad habits and rantings.  If you can’t stand having the mickey taken out of you, endless discussions about football, or diabolical smells in a confined space, then you are probably better off deleting ‘wildlife cameraman’ from you career list.