An interview with bird photographer Penny Geard
Penny’s work can be found at Stall site 251 (summer) and site 268 (winter) Salamanca Market every Saturday.
What led you to become a bird photographer?
I’ve always loved photography. When I left school, I worked full-time as a clinical photographer’s assistant in the University Medical School for a few years. Many years later, in 2006, I bought my first DSLR and I quickly gravitated toward birds as my favourite subject, attracted by the challenges that they present. You need a love of nature to become a bird photographer. I am generally much more interested in capturing aspects of bird behaviour than just looking for aesthetically pleasing images, although I always hope to end up with a bit of both.
Tell us about your photography
Capturing great moments results from a combination of subject knowledge, field craft, technology – and a lot of luck. As a bird photographer, I believe the greatest asset you have is the knowledge of your subject. This means you should know how to identify the species you see, know what species can be found in a certain habitats and how to get close to them, without causing them alarm. You should also know your subjects’ habits, behaviour and calls. Field craft is about being prepared and having your camera settings ready ahead of time so you can react instantly when the action starts. Having your eye on the background can help, too. If you can compose quickly in the field to better place the bird, it adds a lot to the resulting image. In the digital age, capturing the picture is only half the work. Preparing and keeping images organised and safe are also very important and time consuming work practices. It comes down to putting in the time and effort needed to learn about your subject along with the technical and artistic aspects of the work – all of which are equally important.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Bird photography isn’t easy. Birds fly away and it takes many images to find a gem. I take thousands of bad photographs but only show the good ones.
Always show respect for your subject, only go as close as they will allow you and don’t harass any animal just to get a picture. You need to genuinely love nature to have your work show it. It is my hope that my photography shows how beautiful and fragile our birds and the habitats that support them are, and that maybe I can make a difference to someone’s perception of that world.
What do you enjoy most about having a stall at Salamanca Market?
I love meeting other birders and photographers, both from Australia and other parts of the world.
Where else do you sell your photography?
On my website