Pete Oxford / Member Interview

I am fortunate to have worked in many of the world’s most pristine and remote wildlife and cultural destinations as a conservation photographer. Furthermore to have my images appear in most of the major magazines of the world in the field including national geographic, bbc wildlife, time, international wildlife, smithsonian, geo, nature’s best, terre sauvage, outdoor photographer, the economist, geographical, ranger rick and airone as well as being featured ten times in the bbc wildlife photographer of the year awards. I have lived with my wife and partner reneé bish, as a resident of ecuador for 31 and 24 years respectively. Together we have published thirteen books, mostly on ecuadorian conservation themes. We work primarily on conservation related subjects in the hope that the power of the image will help further such efforts around the world. I was considered by outdoor photographer magazine to be among the top 40 most influential nature photographers in the world and am a proud founder fellow of the international league of conservation photographers and in 2009 i was selected as part of the wild wonders of europe ‘dream team’. In 2014 i was awarded ecuadorian photo journalist of the year, the iucn melvita grant and and was named ranger rick photographer of the year, and in 2015 i won the iucn/terre sauvage ‘man in nature’ photographic prize. I am a contributing photographer for the annenberg space for photography and a gitzoambassador, a board member of the marine conservation-based magazine sevenseas and work in partnership with the orianne society. I am also a fellow of the royal geographic society.



What inspired you to become a photographer?

Like millions of others, photography began as a hobby. I consider myself a conservationist and naturalist before a photographer. My photography evolved as a career gradually, i never set out to become a photographer. I began by travelling all over the world and taking images as I went. It became obvious that I could bring the riches of the wild places on earth to others at home. This became an inspiration to me to continue.

Tell us about your first photo that really validated your interest as a photographer.

It was a series of images of polar bears on the sea ice in the middle of the chuck chi sea, Siberia, northern Russia. My mother-in-law persuaded me to submit them to a magazine that she subscribed to.

Somewhat reluctantly I did so. The magazine then published them as front cover, feature article and even a separate supplement at the time I thought, wow, this is easy, I should become a photographer!

Back when you were just starting out, what was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome that?

Money to buy the gear so I just kept working and then making contacts with buyers

What do you enjoy photographing the most?

Mammals and indigenous cultures

What has been your proudest moment as a photographer?

Doing a story for national geographic magazine featuring the Siberian lynx - the rarest cat species in the world.

Tell us about time in your photographic journey where you failed at something and how did you pivot to overcome this?

My first attempts at underwater photography. As a qualified marine biologist, I have a deep affinity for the marine system and wanted to show it better than I was able at the time. I bought better gear, practiced and studied.

We all have weaknesses, what is yours relating to photography?

Probably landscape photography

Finding time to get out and shoot is another challenge for many. How do you find the time in your busy schedule to get out there behind your camera?

That’s my job so time in the field is paramount. The only distractions are the post processing time otherwise I would be shooting continuously.

Nailing a composite right can be a challenge. What do you think the trick is to mastering composition?

Creating a flow for the eye to follow

There are many photographers starting out, who don't have the money to buy the camera gear they want. What advice can you give to them?

Decide first if it will be a hobby or a profession. Hobbyist have a vast array of incredible equipment that is much more affordable than the top of the range gear.

How do you feel photography has impacted the way you see the world?

I look at everything now as a potential image. Even with no camera in hand I still adjust my position to view the subject with a photographic composition in mind

What do you see photographers doing today, that if done differently tomorrow would improve their success?

Repeating imagery already shot by others. Better to be as original as possible.

To get your creative eye focused, where do you draw your inspiration from?

The work of others. I study it and wonder how I might have approached the same subject differently.

What is your best photography related tip?

In wildlife photography, it is to be patient.

What would you like for people take away from your work?

A heightened awareness of the need to care for our environment and the disappearing human cultures.

What are some "must have" items in your camera bag?

A large plastic bag to cover my gear in the rain, a Leatherman and insulation tape to fix lenses.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the ONE photography book you would want to have with you?

Underwater photography masterclass by Alex mustard

Final question, and it’s a fun one: Life has been found on another planet and none-other than Sir Richard Branson is piloting Virgin Galactic and has put together a team of engineers, scientist, doctors and has asked you to come along to document the journey. The challenge is you can only bring two lenses and one camera body and two other items. What would you bring?

Nikon D810
Nikon 24-70mm lens
Nikon 70-200mm lens
An infinite capacity memory card and inexhaustible battery

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