Updated: Feb 14, 2019
To be a Wildlife photographer is to deal with disappointment all the time. When I go out to photograph wildlife, I take as many pictures as I can. This normally means I come home with at least two hundred images on my memory card and usually I am only happy with one or two, which puts my success rate at around 1%. You might think this would put me off going out and trying to capture these images of animals, but it doesn't. It makes me more determined, it fires me up because I know you only need one good image to make the trip worthwhile.
Unfortunately, this is a disappointment I experienced last week.
I ventured out to my local deer park (Woburn Abbey, if you're interested) as it had snowed the day before and I had big plans of getting some shots of the deer in the snow. At the moment, I'm trying to go out with a purpose and an aim of what I want to capture, as I think it helps focus you, but will write about that another time. On this morning, the snow had melted a bit, there wasn't any left on the trees, but still enough on the ground to make the images interesting. I didn't go out super early as I have in the past. The weather was forecast to be overcast and I didn't have high expectations of light for the golden hour. This in mind, I headed out about 9am, in good spirits, excited to be out in the fresh morning air, the snow and among the deer I was hoping to photograph.
I hit my first disappointment early on, as the deer were not in their normal spot. I would not get the perfect image of the classic red deer stag, standing in the snow with the Abbey in the backdrop. It wasn't a problem though, I knew it was a cold morning and expected the deer to be huddling around the trees for warmth. I soldiered on, but after two hours walking in the snow I conceded I wasn't going to find a single deer today, if my life depended on it.
As you can imagine, I was really disappointed. The great idea I had in my head, this image of a classic red deer contrasting against the white ground on a cold winter morning, did not come to be. The day had not gone the way I wanted and the opportunity to capture this image wouldn't come back around for another year. I decided to go home, with my head down, write it off as a failure and give up for the day. However, on my way back to the car, I came across a family of Swans that peaked my interest. The adults and juveniles alike were on a half frozen lake, trying to keep warm together. I spent some time watching them and taking a few shots, before heading off again in the hope I had a good image.
What I'm trying to say is, yes there will be disappointments. You will go out some days and see absolutely nothing. You will feel like you have wasted your time, but in those moments it only takes something small to pick you back up. Just taking a moment to appreciate a group of swans getting on with their day can make the trip worth it.
Who knows, my next trip out to photograph the deer might just be the best yet.