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2014. Looking back at one of my favourite years.

2014 has been a year of lessons. About myself, others and my approach to photography. I’ve many memories of laughs with friends, ‘almost’ shots, technical malfunctions, flat batteries and with luck thrown in, the occasional success!

A moment of calm

A moment of calm

However, the biggest thing for me in 2014 has been the phrase ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. It’s something that resonates in all walks of life and wildlife photography is no exception. With so many first class photographers out there, to not be forgotten and to be ‘seen to be doing well’ is common place, especially on social media where it’s easy to say a lot about nothing. Indeed I’ve been guilty of this myself before now, especially at the start of the year where I wanted to make up for a quiet 2013. But over the months I’ve realised something. Well not realised, more been reminded. Take photos for me, do things for me and write things for me, not for others. I’d wager a bet that almost every single day of 2014 I saw photos online by other photographers that made me wish I’d taken them, or that I was in some exotic part of the world. I suspect the same is true for most photographers, whether they admit to being inspired by or admiring ‘the competition’ or not.

Possibly my favourite shot of the year

Possibly my favourite shot of the year

However, the times I wasn’t sharing images that were getting the attention of thousands, rather than wallow in my own self pity or start concerning myself that I was being left behind, I did something else. I just carried on doing my own thing, at my own pace. I shot what I wanted to shoot, when I could shoot it. When I did, I thought carefully about what I was doing. I didn’t take thousands of photos just so I could share or send agencies or magazines ‘something’. I shot conservatively. I took images that I liked, that I wanted to take, I only shared images I wanted to share, not ones that would simply remind others I still existed. I worried less about the subject and more about the light and composition. I didn’t even leave the UK. In fact, at one point, for three weeks I only photographed the pigeons in my back garden every evening because for those weeks the sun hit just the right spot of the shed roof. Sure all this means I took a lot less photos this year, but because of that, they’re images that resonate with me. Others may not think so or agree, but that’s ok.

Using the light on my garden shed

Using the light on my garden shed

A reflective year

A reflective year

So there we are. Not the typical end of year post that you might have been expecting. I’d like to think that this year has been more about getting back to satisfying my own photographic needs, but maybe the truth is that I just didn’t do enough to warrant a big song and dance – I’ll let you decide on that. But before you do, I should at least put some padding in to this post!

Red Kite in flight

Red Kite in flight

11th hour update – With minutes to spare in 2014, an email arrived in my inbox to announce the winners of the Windland Smith Rice, Natures Best 2014 competition, in which I’m delighted to have won the African Wildlife category and placed as a Highly Honoured in the Animal Antics category!

Category Winner for 2014 Natures Best

Category Winner for 2014 Natures Best

So, a few other highlights. 2014 saw me pay my fist visit to Skomer Island, which I loved! Write a total of 27 full pages consisting of reviews and feature articles, across the majority of the UK photographic publications plus several over seas, 3 magazine covers, being awarded 2nd place in category of the 2013 Oasis International Award of Nature and Wildlife competition (results were announced in 2014) and being commissioned to write content to promote a large competition by the Eden TV Channel. In recent months, I’ve slowly begun delving in to the world of trap-cameras, which has been a real learning curve and is well outside my comfort zone. Until September, I had pretty much never used a flash gun. Now, I own seven of them!

Oasis International Wildlife and Nature, 2nd place in category

Oasis International Wildlife and Nature, 2nd place in category

And with that, a very Happy New Year one and all. Thank you for the continued support and feedback, both good and bad. And to the photographers out there, whether we know each other or not, thank you for the continued inspiration – you’ve helped make 2014 one of my favourite years.

Now, I must dash. I’ve some batteries that need charging!

About the author

Richard Peters is a Surrey based professional wildlife photographer, Nikon Ambassador, and one of the few British photographers to receive the accolade of European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He is known for a style that often favours dramatic use of light, runs wildlife photography workshops and, from camera clubs to big industry events, holds talks about his work.

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