Last week I was involved in a Twitter debate over the fate of a family of wild beavers who were facing capture and a life in captivity. The conversation was started by ATM, a graffiti artist I wrote about a few weeks ago, and Lara Nouri, a nature photographer.
I stalked Lara’s profile which lead me to her Facebook page covered with amazing photos of sea birds. Despite our conflicting views over Twitter, I had found another lady who loves birds- hurrah!
Lara Nouri lives in Radcliffe-on-Trent, not too far outside of Nottingham and studies MSc Biological Photography and Imaging at the University of Nottingham. It’s an all-encompassing course on wildlife photography, film-making, and some graphic design.
Check out Lara’s beautiful images of birds on the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland.
I caught up with Laura to find out more about her and her work
Why did you choose to study MSc Biological Photography and Imaging?
I knew I wanted to do this Master’s degree before I’d even chosen what undergraduate degree to do! I had to produce a whole magazine for one module, which was based on wildlife – very much like the BBC Wildlife magazine. The effort I had to put in was incredible. All photographs, articles, and adverts had to be taken, written, and designed by me. It was such hard work but hugely rewarding. It has been pieces of work like that which helped me to exercise and hone my skills.
Do you specialise in a certain area or subject of photography?
Birds – I love them! The River Trent is just a short walk from my house, so I love walking down to the river bank and photographing the yellow wagtails, sand martins, great-crested grebes, swallows, swifts, terns, gulls, lapwings, and even the odd oystercatcher! It’s paradise.
I recently visited the Farne Islands for the second time. It’s such an amazing place to explore, not only for photographers, but for anyone who appreciates wildlife. Although the arctic terns are a nuisance to most visitors, I have to admit I have a soft spot for them. I spent at least an hour photographing just the terns on the Inner Farne Island!
What message do you hope to get across with your photographs?
I hope to inspire people with my work. A lot of people are out of touch with the natural world nowadays, which is very worrying, as we are just another part of it. Humans have become increasingly detached from nature, and we need to remember that we are still animals. Just intelligent animals.
What I’m really passionate about is science communication – conveying information and scientific findings to the general public using my skills in photography. I am very passionate about conservation and animal welfare, so I often try to raise awareness of certain issues using my photography. If I could encourage more people to take an interest in wildlife with my work, I will be very happy indeed. That’s what I hope to achieve.
What equipment did you use to snap wildlife?
I use a Nikon D600 and a Sigma 150-500mm telephoto lens, usually with a Giottos monopod – that lens is not the lightest of things! I also use my Samyang 14mm wide angle lens a lot. Super telephotos are great for getting up close shots, but sometimes, there is nothing better than a wacky wide angle shot of wildlife. Wide angles are underused in this field.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to photograph nature?
Use whatever you can afford. Super telephoto lenses can be very expensive, but there are 300mm telephotos which are relatively cheap and can help you get some lovely shots of wildlife. If like me, it’s birds you want to focus on, then make sure you get to grips with identification. Learn what birds look like, what their songs sound like, and what their flight patterns are. I hadn’t learned the songs and calls of birds until more recently, and it has transformed my photography trips and my life in general. You can listen to the green woodpecker’s laughing call, the sweet trills of a wren’s song, or the twinkling of an overhead goldfinch, and revel in the fact you know they’re there without being able to see them. Often now, I am ready for a shot because I’ve heard the bird before I see it.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have a career in mind?
Oh no, not the dreaded question! I don’t have one particular career in mind yet, but I know that it will involve the things I love: photography and wildlife. Does that mean I’ll be a wildlife photographer? I guess so, but going freelance is very difficult. I hope freelance is the way I’ll go once I’ve made a bit of money, but first I’ll be applying for jobs. BBC Natural History Unit – here I come!
What an inspirational lady! Here are a few other snaps I love form her collection.
I thank Lara for letting me interrogate her and post some of her wonderful work. Check out her Facebook page for more amazing snaps and you can also follow her on Twitter; she loves a good old chinwag about nature.