Will Burrard-Lucas proves the point that photographic success comes to those who aren’t afraid to experiment and learn, while traveling to the places where great photos can be taken. To become a wildlife photographer, he simply went where the wildlife lives, whether it’s the Masai Mara in Kenya or the Falkland Islands.
Within just two years, his images were in demand by publications, broadcast media and natural science museums, such as the Smithsonian. Lucas also developed a strong following through social media, which has led to more exhibits and hosting photography tours throughout the world.
What event or experience first attracted you to photography?
I have always traveled and, with the advent of digital cameras, I found I was able to start recording my trips in a way that I was unable to do before. Digital allowed me to experiment much more and learn through a process of trial-and-error, so I was able to improve my skills quite quickly.
When did you know that you wanted to pursue a photography career?
Shortly after launching my Web site (Burrard-Lucas.com) during 2006, I started making money from photography. After a few years, it had progressed to a stage that I realized it might be possible to make a living from it. As my online following grew and my work started to be more widely published, a more realistic opportunity developed, so, during 2010, I took the plunge and went full-time.
Did you receive any formal photography education? Where? Degree earned?
No. I learnt through a process of trial-and-error and experimentation. During the early days, I also learnt much online i.e., by looking at other peoples’ photos and reading blogs and forums.
Were you influenced by a famous photographer’s style? Who?
My biggest influence has probably been the BBC, in its innovative use of technology to achieve groundbreaking footage of wildlife and the natural world.
What was your first professional/commercial photography assignment?
I haven’t really worked on assignments and I don’t focus any of my energy on trying to obtain commissions. I decide what I want to shoot and if I think I will be able to sell the pictures, I take them, and then return to market them.
The first time I actually used this strategy successfully was in my “Meerkats of the Kalahari” series and, since then, I have been able to replicate this result on a number of different projects.
Do you specialize in a specific type of photography? Why?
I am a wildlife photographer. Wildlife is what interests me and wildlife is what I enjoy shooting. When I travel to exotic places I inevitably shoot landscapes and travel shots as well, but wildlife is always my main focus.
How many years have you been a professional in this field?
Almost two years.
What was your most memorable photography assignment/job/project?
The BeetleCam project in which I mounted my DSLR on top of a small remote-controlled buggy and used it to take close-up, ground-level photograph of dangerous African animals, such as lions, elephants and buffalo. For more information about this project, visit:
How would you describe your specific style?
I try to use innovative techniques to capture fresh perspectives. Usually this means trying to place my camera as close as possible to wild animals and using a wide-angle lens to photograph them. The BeetleCam project is an example, but also my Komodo dragon images and Falkland Island photos: http://blog.burrard-lucas.com/2011/06/komodo-dragons/
In which major publications have your images been published?
My images have been published in all the major UK newspapers; many popular photography, scientific, wildlife and nature magazines around the world; and also on the BBC and Good Morning America on ABC.
Have you published any books: photography or instructional? Titles and years?
No. I’ve licensed the odd image for use in books, but I have not published any of my own.
Which photography awards have you received?
During 2011, I won the Sony Moving Image Award for my migration film and had highly commended images in GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature’s Best Winland Smith Rice International Awards:
Which photo of yours is your all-time favorite?
The BeetleCam shots and also my photographs of penguins showering in the Falklands:
Where have your photographs been exhibited? Please list a few future exhibitions, with dates.
I have had my work exhibited in several natural history museums around the world, including the Smithsonian. I also had a yearlong exhibit in Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4. My work from the Ethiopian Wolf project, which I undertook with Rebecca Jackrel, will be exhibited in the G2 Gallery in Los Angeles, September 18–November 4, 2012.
Do you conduct photography workshops: names, future dates? Please describe for what level of photographer.
Yes, I manage international photo tours. The 2012 tours include:
The Pantanal, Brazil: July 2 – July 10, 2012.
Masai Mara, Kenya: July 26 – August 2, 2012 and August 3 – August 10, 2012.
Madagascar: October 27 – November 8, 2012.
For more details, visit http://www.burrard-lucas.com/photo-tours.html.
My tours cater to photographers with various levels of ability and experience. If you are looking to improve your photographic skills, then David and I will provide expert guidance and helpful hints and tips. If you are already a proficient photographer, then this is your opportunity to travel with a group of like-minded people, and, of course, return home with some fantastic photographs.
What is most amateur photographers’ #1 mistake?
In the field of wildlife photography, I would say it is not positioning the camera low. In general, photographs will have much more impact if you are on the same level as your subject.
With what brand name equipment do you shoot: Camera, lens, etc?
My equipment includes Canon cameras, flashes and lenses; Sony, GoPro and Canon cameras for video; Manfrotto tripods; an f-stop Satori EXP bag and several ICU’s; and BL photography Beetlecams.
Do you shoot video and create multimedia presentations?
Yes, it is a great way to complement the stills and tell the story behind the shots. My “In Pursuit of Pandas” documentary and my migration and BeetleCam videos are examples. See some of my videos at https://vimeo.com/wildlife/videos.
What is the most important lesson you learned during your career?
Be original and think outside the box. If you don’t create very different images, then it is very difficult for your work to be noticed.
What advice would you share with aspiring professional photographers?
Realize that it is as much about marketing and building a brand as it is about taking photos. If you develop your mailing list, Facebook subscribers and Twitter followers with people who are relevant targets for your business, then, with time, it becomes easier and easier to launch new revenue-generating initiatives. It is never too early to start! It took several years for me to build my following to a point, before it began to generate sales and an income.
Photo by Matthew Burrard-Lucas