I’m excited to share an interview with the very talented and passionate Photographer Gavin Bickerton-Jones. Gavin finds inspiration for his photography through, family, racing and the abundance of wildlife where he resides in Norfolk, England. After spending many years in the world of car racing, Gavin has switched gears and is diverting more of his attention toward his photography. Gavin’s body of work is quite diverse and his passion for photography speaks for itself.
Gavin, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us and thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses. It’s not every day we get a behind the scenes view of someone with such talent.
Can you please tell the readers a bit about yourself?
I am 56 years old, and started out making my living as a race car driver, getting to Formula 3 level, winning races and championships along the way, until I realized I would need a lot more money and talent to get to Formula 1, so decided to pack up driving and started working as a race engineer in the industry. For the last 35 years I have engineered cars to numerous wins and championships all across the world in F3, F3000, GP2, F2 to name a few series. I was interested in photography when I was racing and had a second hand Canon film camera which I used to take photos at the track. I lost touch with photography until about 6 years ago when I bought my first DSLR, and took to it straight away photographing wildlife as we live in Norfolk, England which has a lot of good wildlife around.
I also took pictures at swimming galas as my daughter swam competitively for 5 years, and put them on the clubs website, selling some to raise money for the club. I decided to use manual settings mostly from the start, and swimming photos was a big challenge as the light is usually bad poolside, and condensation on lenses etc, so I learnt quickly about settings, custom white balance etc, which helps when on a wildlife shoot as you don’t get a lot of time to check settings etc.
What type of session do you look forward to the most vs what type of session you most often do?
I look forward to most sessions, as there is an anticipation of what you are going to get and trepidation if you get nothing! I shoot portraits,sports like athletics, swimming, live rock gigs which I enjoy as it is a difficult environment to shoot in with the light etc, and if I go to somewhere where I am hoping to see a particular wildlife I am hoping it will actually show up!
What has been the easiest part of learning about photography?
The easiest part of learning photography is that now with the internet and YouTube there are lots of instructional stuff and ideas to try.
What has been the most challenging part of photography?
The hardest part of photography is being original and creative with your images to try to get something different.
How do you keep your photography fresh and how do you stay motivated to keep on learning?
I am always trying to get the perfect picture (Doesn’t exist!), so even after a great shoot I am quite self critical and look at what could be better for when I go back again. With wildlife, I love to learn about the particular species, look at its habits and spend time ‘in the field’ with it, which helps to get better shots.
What has been the best source of information along your photography journey (workshop, online forums, classroom, mentor, etc)?
Magazines and YouTube have been best sources of info, as well as meeting other photographers and just talking, you always learn something!
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer just starting out?
I would advise anyone new to not get over obsessed with it, just go out and take photos trying different settings so you can see what difference they make and gets you used to the camera and helps you start creating images rather than just snaps.
Share with us your favorite image and why.
Difficult to pick a favourite image, but one I took recently of 2 young Barn Owls ‘kissing’ on a post caught a tender moment as they were leaving the nest and learning to hunt. I have been helping a land owner prepare his land to encourage Barn Owls, and these 2 were the first success of the nest box this year and has been lovely to see them progress. I also like the Osprey shot as they are so hard to catch it is satisfying when you get something. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll pick completely different images!!
What do you hope viewers take away from your images?
I hope viewers can see from my images I have an affinity with wildlife and have understood how to show it in its best light, and with other subjects I try to convey the emotion of the event, be it a gig or sports event.
What type of camera(s) do you shoot with? What is your favorite lens?
I mostly use a Canon 1DX with a 500mm lens for wildlife, but have a 7D Mk 2 as well. I se a 70-200 for swimming, 24-105 for gigs, portraits, as well as a 50mm. The 70-200 F 2.8 is a favourite lens as it is so adaptable for sport, weddings, portraits etc, and is lightweight as well!
What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?
Fave accessory is my speedlight, I love using flash techniques for portraits, gig etc. If I am shooting a band in a small pub, I put the flash on the floor and get down low shooting upwards with a remote, and it gives it the impression of a bigger venue.
Do you use Lightroom, Photoshop, both or other?
I use photoshop for editing, just because I used it from the start and am familiar with it. I don’t do a lot of editing with wildlife stuff as I like to keep it as real as possible. I don’t do a lot of editing with wildlife stuff as I like to keep it as real as possible.
What piece of equipment would you most like to get but don’t have yet?
I would like some studio strobes and flashes to experiment with different lighting in a studio environment.
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?”
I have won quite a few regional competitions, and had pictures in National calendars etc, been shortlisted in British wildlife photographer of the year competition 3 times. It felt good when i sold my first picture as it showed people like what I do, and gives me motivation to do more, better.
Are there any areas of photography that you have yet to pick up on that you’d like to learn?
I am scaling down my motor sport work and doing more photography, and hope to get more work out there and published. I have a few images on Getty Images and was quite a good feeling when I sold my first ones there on a site with so many talented photographers. I would like to do some more studio work with models, playing with light set-ups etc.
What do you think the future holds for you? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
In the future I want to do more to promote photography and wildlife, developing the site further to create places where people can go and see great wildlife in safe environment and get great photos. I like giving what advice i have to other photographers, and helping them get great pictures of great subjects. Whilst I like a lot of forms of photography, Wildlife is my main love and I will always be chasing it around the globe hopefully, I would like to photo big cats in Africa, so that is on the bucket list!