I probably owe a great deal to the photographer Jim Brandenburg. I have never had the privilege of meeting him, but his iconic picture of half a wolf’s head jutting out from behind a tree is widely ascribed as a key moment in the history of wildlife photography. This was the day when transcending wildlife photography started to be regarded as art.
I am a fine art photographer, not a wildlife photographer, and so I sit somewhere in the middle of this debate. I don’t use long lenses unless I absolutely have to – polar bears and tigers being two cases in which they are helpful. Telephoto lenses compress the image and with it the chance of capturing something deeply evocative.
I do find many wildlife photographs very dull. It is not enough to see an animal and then photograph it – that is akin to google mapping and it is not art. Many wildlife photographers fall into the trap of believing that documentation is enough and it is not.
This image is deliberately reductive and there is no lofty ambition. But therein lies its strength. It is a paradox that white is such a strong colour and it is probably at its best in abstract imagery with no depth of focus. There was about an inch of focus here and it was well used.