“The World of a Wildlife Photographer” by David Boag, March 17th, 2021

David Boag has been a professional wildlife photographer for over 40 years. He has travelled the world and he has written eighteen books for a variety of publishers and large corporate organisations. On 17th March he gave an entertaining and humorous account of his career as a photographer, and the approach he takes to wildlife photography, to Keswick Photographic Society.


David first became interested in photography in the late 1960’s when the development of cameras capable of relatively fast shutter speeds enabled the capture of animal behaviour. Then in the 1970’s electronic flashes were invented which allowed him to take high speed action shots. He was regarded as a pioneer in this field and his first book, which featured Kingfishers, was published in 1982. His next book was on puffins which included underwater shots. In those days there were no water tight housings for cameras available so David had to build his own. The difficulties of wildlife photography then should not be underestimated. Shutter speeds were still relatively slow compared to those possible today with digital cameras and images could not be seen instantaneously on the back of the camera. Instead, it would take up to three weeks to a month for David to have his film processed and developed. Only then could he view his images.


In the 1990’s David produced a series of books on four different habitats in Britain; woodland, river, coast and garden. In these he emphasised that it was important to link images together to produce a story.  He also shared some of the tricks of his trade such as using props to attract animals in to his garden. A later project undertaken was to document the natural world of a quarry and this led to a major commission in America for the quarrying industry. This involved producing five books and took four years to complete. He visited the USA four times a year for three to six weeks each time to capture the changing seasons. With all expenses paid he said, tongue in cheek, that it was a hard life!


In recent years, following the introduction of digital cameras, potential income purely from the sale of images has shrunk significantly so, in addition to his books, David makes a living by giving lectures on cruise ships, leading safaris and teaching photography.  He has produced a series of tutorials which are available for purchase on his website. He is extremely modest about his own standard of photography and says that it is his enthusiasm that is the secret to his success. As a professional photographer he does not often have time to wait for perfect conditions but just has to make the most of the situation.

Throughout the evening it was David’s enthusiasm that shone through and he gave us a most enjoyable and interesting evening.

Julie Walker