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How To Tell An Animal Story In Photos

Photography can be incredibly important for getting across certain messages, and it can be especially effective at telling stories about the wildlife around us. “People all work in different ways, but with social media taking over most people’s lives, I think photography is only gaining power,” believes pro wildlife photographer Luke Massey. “People – whether they actually are or not – seem too busy to read articles. However, if an image flashes up in front of them it can make them think twice and immediately grab their attention.” The types of shots that tell you a story often have more impact than simple portrait shots that give you no context. Massey’s High-Rise Falcon series, for instance, paints an interesting picture of the behaviour of a group of birds as they settled in an unusual location.

Baby Peregrine
Baby Peregrine

“30 years ago peregrines were extirpated in Illinois; now 21 pairs nest in Chicago alone. I found out about one of these pairs that had decided to nest in a flowerpot on a condo balcony, 28 floors above Chicago. The pair were incredibly tolerant and allowed me to document a wild peregrine nest in a way no one had ever had access to before. Linda, the female, was the boss and spent most of her time around the nest, while Steve, the male, would be out hunting.”

So how exactly did he go about getting across this unique story? “Instead of constantly taking tight shots I wanted to show the background to highlight that this wasn’t just any peregrine nest (eyrie): it was right in the centre of a city. I think by having the buildings in the background that shows how urban this nest is. Especially when you think a ‘normal’ nest should be on a cliff face in the middle of nowhere!” Giving your wildlife images some context and placing them in their environment is one of the easiest ways of communicating something about them to the viewer. To do this, use a wide-angle lens and consider your shooting position to get the best background for the shot.

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