Today, I have the honor of presenting an interview that comes from Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland. Paul Hayes is a talented and self-taught Photographer who excels at capturing nature and wildlife with a thoughtful and careful eye. Through Paul’s photos, we get a true sense of his enjoyment of being outdoors and his passion for capturing all it has to offer.
Paul, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. You are a brilliant photographer and someone whose work is definitely worth following.
If you’re interested in following Paul, you can find him on Twitter.
Where is home?
Home is Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland. It is a historic small town in the North East of Ireland where the Book of Kells was found, which is now in Trinity College, Dublin. There is also a monastic site in the centre of town being St. Colmcille’s House. I have lived here for the past 20 years originally being from Dublin.
When did you first realize that you wanted to get into photography and how long have you been involved with it?
I had been a long distance endurance cyclist for years and I ‘accidentally’ fell into photography after breaking my hip while out cycling in 2016 and also developing Asthma two years ago. I also developed Vestibular Migraine which makes me very unsteady so I needed to find a hobby to replace the cycling as it was such a large part of my life and have suffered from depression for years as this was my way of dealing with the depression. So photography seemed a safer hobby.
Are you formally-taught or self-taught? What has been the best source of information during your journey.
I am self-taught on the school of YouTube. It has an amazing range of tutorials for anything to do with photography. Also trying different techniques and trial and error.
What is your favorite part of being a photographer?
I love being outdoors for hours on end in the fresh air and sunshine. Trying to find the best and different pictures of birds, bugs, animals and flora.
What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Getting that one in a million crisp shot especially when shooting birds. I have often taken over 1000 shots and after going through them can realistically end up with only 120 that are acceptable to me.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
I love being outdoors and taking photos of birds, insects, butterflies and migratory birds hoping for something special.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
While walking along the River Tolka in Dublin, I noticed a cormorant away in the distance. After working my way slowly towards the bird it was quite happy diving and feeding with me in close proximity. After about 40 minutes he dived and then surfaced with a trout about 12 – 18 inches long – the fish was nearly as big as the bird! I had single point focus and continuous shooting set so I rattled off 20 shots. I knew I had taken a good shot but did not know how good they were until I got home and saw them on the laptop.
How do you keep yourself motivated and your photography fresh?
Every day that I go out there is a chance of getting something special and rare and there is nothing as good for your health as being out in the fresh country air.
What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly?
If there is anything I want to learn or look at I usually just go to YouTube and look at their bird/wildlife photography.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
Hoping for the big one! And getting some of my photos published. I had a photo of otters published by the Irish Wildlife Trust – it was like winning the lottery!
Share with us your favourite image and why.
This is my favourite image as I waited for nearly an hour for it but did not expect to get something so raw and natural.
What type of camera do you shoot with?
I have a Nikon D300S and a Nikon D5200. P900. My favourite lens is the Sigma 150-600 Contemporary.
What’s in your camera bag?
P900, D5200, ND filter no. 10. Remote control. Sigma 105 macro lens. SD cards, camera cloth.
What is your favorite photography accessory?
Don’t have any favourite accessory – love them all.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
Well without hesitation that would have to be the Nikon D 500.
How important is Photoshop or other image editing software?
I use Capture One all the time and find it very useful.
Was there a point in your journey when you started to feel really good about your work? If so, what did it feel like to get past that ‘tipping point’?
When I got the Nikon D300S it was a better quality camera, better FPS and all-round workhorse. The amount of images that I was happy with increased dramatically.
Do you have any projects that make you look back and shake your head? What made the experience so unpleasant?
So far I have not had many failures – the odd photo that I thought would a good one but turned out not to be so.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I would like to shoot birds faster – and get consistent usable images.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I just plan to enjoy my photography and keep going with it.