Turns out, you don’t have to travel far to photograph wildlife. Edwin Butter, one of our notable contributors, has built a portfolio around images taken mostly in Netherlands. His talent shines through his individual photographs, and you can tell he is always at the right place at the right time.
Today Edwin shares with us a little bit about his personal work and his passion for photography. He encourages artists to photograph solely what they love, and this advice reverberates through his own images, showing us the subtle beauty and grace of animals in their habitats.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional background.
My name is Edwin Butter and I live in Amsterdam, Netherlands. After studying law, I worked in the field of social affairs, welfare and education.
In 2010 I became a volunteer photographer for the local zoo where in addition to animals and plants, I also photographed buildings, artworks and people. Because my photos were getting better, I was also asked by other institutions such as the municipal cemeteries, the city archives and the Tattoo Expo to photograph for them. That is why I am now officially registered with the Chamber of Commerce as a professional photographer.
As for other jobs, I still give advice to small and medium-sized businesses, but photography is really the thing that I prefer to do. In order to continue to develop myself in this area, I regularly follow courses such as “Masters from the 21st Century” at the Rijksmuseum.
How did you stumble on stock photography?
My niece knew someone who did stock photography which is how I got into it.
Where do you go to shoot wildlife?
Nature and city parks, gardens, forests, and zoos at home and abroad. With a macro lens you do not have to travel that far for animals and nature photography!
What are some of your favourite destinations?
Haarlemmerliede for spoonbills, De Veluwe for burling deer, Amsterdamse Waterleiding Dunes for foxes, Oostvaardersplassen for Konikspaarden in the Netherlands and abroad – Helgoland for the Northern Gannets and Skomer Island for puffins.
Do you have any stories from your travels about interacting with wild animals?
One of my best selling photos on Depositphotos I made in the backyard of my parents’ house where a mother duck swam around in the pond with her chicks. The mother duck was very alert, but by quietly moving and whispering her reassuring words, I was able to take a nice series of photos.
What kind of equipment do you usually use?
I have worked with Olympus SLR cameras for years and I was very pleased with the color reproduction, but with the arrival of their system cameras I switched to Canon. That brand is somewhat less innovative, but the equipment is more solidly built and their color reproduction is also very nice. I am now in possession of various L-series lenses and full frame bodies. For wildlife photography, I often take an APS-C body with me because of the crop factor and the greater range it yields.
Do you have a favourite photograph, and if so, what is the story behind it?
No, I do not have 1 favorite photo. I have several photos that I am happy with and which gave me nice memories with a good story. A photo that now comes to mind is one of Great Crested Grebes. I do not believe it is in my portfolio on Depositphotos because of the amount of noise or the fact that the file size was not sufficient.
The photo dates back 5 years ago. That day I was with 2 friends in the Oostvaardersplassen, The Netherlands. It was mating time for the Great Crested Grebes, and I had not been able to visualize their courtship nicely yet. In addition, it seemed that it would be a beautiful sunset that we wanted to wait for. I then jokingly said that I assumed that the Great Crested Crebes would show their courtship for us at sunset. Miraculously enough this happened too!
From your experience, what kind of images sell best?
In my experience it is difficult to predict in advance whether a photo will sell well or not. A simple print of a robin on a branch or a pet can sell much better than a technically more difficult photo of, for example, a drinking monkey with its mirror image reflected in the water. This is probably because the application possibilities of the latter are much less.
What is your philosophy in regards to your work?
It is very important for me, also in the field of photography, that I mainly do what I like to do best. That’s why I mainly photograph animals and people and sometimes I say no to big product photography assignments, for example.
I try my best to become better at it by doing it as often as possible, to look at my work over and over again and to follow an interesting course or workshop every now and then.
I like to be inspired by the works of others. This is a photo by photographer Steve Bloom that inspired me a lot:
What is the most valuable advice you’ve received that you’d like to pass on to fellow photographers?
My advice is closely related to the answer to the previous question. Photograph especially what you are passionate about. As far as stock photography is concerned, when offering photographs, read the rejection reasons well. I learned a lot from that.
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