June 19, 2015 14:09

Here at CoinaPhoto we love sharing the incredible work of our users. Recently we caught up with Lawrence Graves to discuss the fantastic photographs he has uploaded to the public gallery. Lawrence has a tendency to capture striking images of animals and we simply had to know how he does it.

Hi Lawrence, thanks for speaking with us. Firstly your ‘The Hunter’ photograph is particularly stunning – can you tell us more about it?

This beautiful cat was captured at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. The Hunter, the face of a king was an image I have had in my mind for some time. It was always going to be about the male lion, strong and powerful in his prime. I wanted the lion to be in your face close up and very personal, the pose needed to be right also I wanted some sort of expression; I didn’t want teeth and aggression I was looking for powerful and soft a bit like a softy but very wild. The glazed look was simply perfect for this head shot, it’s like he was looking though me without a care in the world and preoccupied in his own thoughts. Step into my space and we will see who the boss is!

What techniques did you use to capture the photo?

The main one is know your subject!

None really, lions are creatures of habit they tend to stick to the same routine day in and day out so it was a case of setting up my 5D Mark II on the tripod with the EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS USM Lens in my pre-selected place and being very patient. Two hours had gone by and he started to patrol his territory after his cat nap and as you know cats big and small can sleep for England, so being patient when photographing cats is a must. Just like clockwork he started to slowly walk straight towards me. I had a helper with me that day and I had a job for him. It was quite simple really, all he had to do was stand five feet to my right, be very still and quiet, and snap a small stick when I gave him the nod. This gave me the look I was looking for, the surprise on the lions face and the slight turning of the head gave me the composition for the shot. The black background was edited in Photoshop, this gave me the separation for the head to pop out the frame for impact on the viewer.

How old were you when you took an interest in photography? Where did your inspiration come from?

I started using a camera at the age of 10. My father always let me use his and take our holiday snaps, it was a Kodak instamatic, I think my mother thought I did a better job than my dad! Apparently I did quite a good job, taking a photo without cutting the tops of the heads off is what my mother said, so that was my job - taking the holiday photos, I was now hooked on photography.

At the age of 13 my father enrolled me into an after school photography club which was run by our school, so I started to learn about the darkroom and the processing side of things, how to develop film and (not that I had one) how to set up and use a 35mm SLR. For my 16th birthday my parents presented me with a Zenit E 35mm SLR, there was no stopping me now; friends of the family called me David Bailey.

David Bailey was my inspiration though my childhood with his fabulous black and white prints.

How would you describe your photographic vision? What kind of look do you try and create in your photos?

Looking for the moment that is different, the facial expressions in animals, the way the light falls on the subject, capturing the soul through the eyes in my wildlife images is important.

Is there anything in particular that you enjoy taking photos of?

Yes, wildlife in general. All animals including pets, dogs cats birds, but most of all the big cats, tigers lions leopards and cheaters.

Is there any advice you would offer to those looking to get into photography?

Yes, ask questions! And more questions and even more questions. At this point don’t buy a camera yet - try and borrow one from a family member or a friend first.

Take your time. Don’t rush out and start buying all sorts of expensive equipment until you know what you want to photograph. Join your local photography club, start searching YouTube for videos on photography, find out what it is you are interested in.

When you’re ready to buy a camera don’t buy one brand just because a friend said you need to get Canon for example, go down to your local camera shop and try the cameras out, hold them look at them ask questions, find out what works for you.

And here is the best bit of advice I can give you when it comes to investing your cash into equipment. It’s not about the camera body; it’s all about the glass the lens is where you want to spend your money, the image travels through the lens before it gets to the body.

What’s your dream photography project?

The big cats out in the wild, up close and very personal.

What do you hope to achieve with your photography?

Simply to bring inspiring wildlife images to people around the world that would never see such beauty in their lives if it wasn’t for the likes of photography for example.

What are you shooting now? Can we expect to see it on CoinaPhoto?

I’m not shooting right now, but I am planning a trip to photograph apes and some gorillas and yes the images from the shoot will be uploaded to CoinaPhoto.

How are you finding CoinaPhoto? What do you like most about it?

I think it’s a nice platform and easy to use, nice layout and the images look good, bright and colourful.

A huge thank you to Lawrence for sharing his thoughts with us, particularly the fantastic advice on starting out in photography! You can see Lawrence’s amazing photographs here on his CoinaPhoto profile and for more visit his website.



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