With a connection to nature and an understanding of light, fine art nature photographer George Wheelhouse’s images share a unique perspective of the beauty of the natural world. George’s fresh approach to his work is strongly influenced by his background in art and design. While George photographs subjects close to home in Bedfordshire, UK, he also shares a passion for traveling to photograph the wildlife and landscapes of other captivating parts of the world. George’s photography effectively conveys his love of the outdoors and moments in nature with his viewers.
It’s my pleasure to share George’s thoughts and ideas about his work with my readers. George, thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts and views of nature through your words and photography and for allowing us to get to know a bit about you.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I’m a fine art nature photographer. I shoot portraits of animals for wall art, specialising in high-key and low-key images. I also enjoy travelling for landscape photography in picturesque locations away from the crowds. It’s both my creative outlet and my escape from the busy modern world.
Where do you call home?
I live in Bedfordshire, UK; home of… well not a lot really. But I love to travel.
After browsing through your website, I see that you’re truly immersed in the field of photography. What is it that led you towards photography and how long have you been working in it?
I’ve always enjoyed nature and the outdoors, and I used to draw animals from reference photos, in pencil and pastel. I picked up a camera in 2009, and was soon hooked. I love learning new things, and new skills, and found a whole world to discover in photography. I’ve now surpassed the level I reached with drawing, and I’m enjoying pushing my boundaries in photography. I love using light and shadow, and constantly play with the effects I can achieve.
Are you self-taught or formally-taught?
I’ve never had any formal photography tuition. I started by getting 2 or 3 photography books from the library, and off I went.
In regard to marketing, how much of your time do you dedicate to social media? Do you use any special programs or services?
I don’t prioritise social media over other things, but I share on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I use Instagram the most, as it really values the image over all else. I wish they’d do an iPad version though.
Locations and weather conditions seem to be a crucial aspect to a successful picture. How do you handle these unpredictable factors?
I go in with several plans, so I’m generally able to react to light and weather, and adapt accordingly. Often things just don’t work out, but I still learn, and enjoy my time outdoors or with an animal.
What type of photography shoots do you look forward to?
I love working with larger animals, and especially in low light. It’s rare you can rely on strong low light in the UK, but when it comes off it’s very rewarding. The shoots I look forward to most are the ones with the scope to try things out, and play with a few different ideas.
When shooting subjects, what do you find most challenging?
Animals and wildlife have their own minds, and when they don’t want to be photographed I have to respect that. Sometimes it’s a case of patience and persistence, and other times I have to change my approach entirely.
What’s the best part of being a photographer?
The freedom to create images never before captured, and to follow my own instinct, rather than that of the crowd.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
The constant failure! It’s hard. My standards are high. I rarely achieve the photo I have in mind. It can be easy to think you’re getting nowhere, but when I look back at my portfolio I can see I’m going in the right direction. You’ve got to play the long game.
How do you keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated to keep on learning?
If I wasn’t learning and improving I’d quickly get bored. There’s a whole world of visual arts out there, with almost infinite potential. I’m hugely creatively motivated, and I always want to raise my game. That in itself keeps the standard of my work evolving, in addition to my interest in nature and my desire to bring that connection with nature to a mainstream audience.
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
Make sure you’re enjoying what you do, and that you’re getting satisfaction from it – either from the results, or the learning process. It sounds like a simple one, but it can be deceptively hard.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
Gosh, I can’t pick a favourite, but this Swaledale sheep portrait is one I’m particularly pleased with. They’re the icon of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and I had this image in mind for several years before managing to find a suitable and willing subject. I was really lucky to find this old ewe, and get a strong sunlight to enable me to capture this. So it’s both an aesthetic I enjoy, and a very rewarding image to have achieved.
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
A connection with the subject. I want bring a bit of nature into people’s daily lives. We’re losing our connection with the natural world, and it’s more important for us to reconnect now than ever before.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I shoot with a Nikon D810, and my new favourite lens is the Sigma 100-400mm. Relatively speaking it’s a budget lens, but it’s sharp, and the focal length is enjoyably versatile.
What is in your camera bag?
Apart from sweets and flapjacks… Always spare batteries, lens cloth, 24-70mm f2.8, 70-200mm f4, 300mm f2.8, 1.7x teleconverter, head torch, Manfrotto 190C tripod, and a bottle of water.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
A mythical all-rounder lens for carrying up mountains; sharp, lightweight, 24-300mm zoom, f4 or f5.6. I might be waiting some time for that.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software in your final images?
I rarely use Photoshop, but Lightroom is indispensable. Since I shoot raw files, they all need processing, and I enjoy the opportunity for creativity that presents. Sometimes the final image is very similar to the raw file, and sometimes they differ greatly. I enjoy the processing as much as I do the photo shoot.
Can you tell me about one of your favorite or most memorable photo shoots? What made it so great and why did you like it so much?
My favourite wildlife experience in the UK is photographing puffins, on Skomer Island in Wales. They’re such characterful birds, and as long as you’re patient and respectful, they’ll come very close to you. There is a huge amount of scope to do your own thing there too, so you have plenty of options available in terms of the type of shots to go for. Really it’s a case of seeing where your creativity takes you. Photography aside, it’s also an amazing wildlife encounter, and hugely enjoyable.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
We all suffer set-backs, but nothing really springs to mind as an unpleasant project/experience.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
My reliance on natural light has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s forced me to get creative with it in a variety of ways, but it’s also a limitation. Thankfully a friend of mine is helping to demystify the world of flash and artificial lighting, and that’s the area I’d really like to get to grips with next.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I’m not an optimist, and I don’t expect to conquer the world. But as long as I’m creating new work I’ll be happy. I’m currently reconnecting with what I enjoy about photography; I want to expand my portfolio of creative animal portraits, and to continue visiting interesting and underpopulated wilderness areas. I’ll see where that take me and enjoy the ride.