• About Brian
  • Awards & Publications
  • Biggest Influences
  • Equipment
  • owlSo when did you become interested in photography?

    When I was five years old I was allowed to climb a ladder to check up on a Barn Owl family, moments like this started my interested in wildlife which has never waned. In 2001, during a year travelling after university, I slipped over trying to photograph fur seals in New Zealand and broke my little compact APS film camera I borrowed from my mother. After travelling for 2 months I arrived in Australia and bought an entry level Canon SLR with a 300mm lens and that combined with my lifelong interest in wildlife (particularly birds) I started my wildlife photography journey.

     

     

    What did you study?

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    I studied physics and then management science at Lancaster University which allowed me to get good jobs to support my camera equipment and travel habit. I have never studied photography I learnt photography by trial and lots of error, magazines, other photographers, friends and books. It wasn’t until I worked for 2 years to save money for a decent camera (Canon EOS 3 film SLR) and telephoto lens (Canon 500mm F4).  I went on my first big trip to Madagascar which produced my first published photographs.

     

    What would be your ideal photography trip?

    I enjoy long term projects that mean I get to return to the same area and subject over a number of seasons.  I also enjoy tough photography, carrying 25kgs up a hill, in the snow really is my perfect day (ideally with some photography along the way, which sometimes isn’t the case). I enjoy the waiting, the anticipation of when my target subject will appear and if it will be in the right place and in the right light. We have spent weeks in hides trying to get the perfect shot, which as I have found out, does not happen very often. Weeks of early mornings, driving out into the African wilderness or pushing through the jungles of Indonesia is always great fun, and presents very different challenges to working in the cold. My next big project, ‘the last eight’ on the 8 remaining bear species will cover some of the most ideal photograph locations but will be very difficult for half of the lesser known species (Sun, Spectacled, Asian Black and Panda bears).

     

    Where are your favourite places?

    snowhidecameranatura

    After university I travelled to Australia and New Zealand both amazing placing with stunning wildlife and landscapes.  I recently returned to New Zealand which reaffirmed my love for the South Island and its marine mammals and birds. For any wildlife photographer Africa has so much to see, I have been to Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, The Gambia and Tanzania, I have plans to return and visit some of the less visited countries.  I would love to see the large elephant herds in Southern Sudan when it becomes a safer place to visit.

    The wildlife in India (mainly the elephants and Tigers!) makes me return frequently, I have been lucky to spend weeks in Corbett and Ranthambore National Parks (in one year I saw over 20 wild tigers which at the time was estimated to be nearly 1% of the worlds wild population). Scandinavia has been an interesting contrast to my tropical destinations over the last few years with many visits to Norway and Finland. From 2006 to 2010 I spent a lot of time in Indonesia working with the Orangutan Foundation UK in Borneo (Kalimantan), documenting Komodo Dragons in Rinca and Black Crested Macaques in Northern Sulawesi. Getting to Antarctica in 2014 was a dream come true, the penguins and landscapes were fantastic.

     

    Where next?

    I have travelled to over 50 countries and hope to travel to many more. I would love to get into Russia (esp Wrangle Island to follow polar bears, Musk Oxen, Snowy Owl and many other birds that breed there in the summer), I would like to get to the Ross Sea and search for Emperor Penguins (and head to the Goulds Bay colony). I enjoy the challenge of improving my portfolio with the same subject so I often revisit many places to get some better shots (or at least try to get better shots!).

     

    What are your favourite subjects?

    bbcwildlifeelephants

    Badgers and elephants make the joint top of my list but I think due to a childhood fascination, badgers just make it to my number one spot, one of my badgers images made it on the front of BBC Wildlife magazine from a site I have been working at in Wales which was fantastic. Over the last 10 year I have photographed 4 of the worlds bear species Brown, Sloth, Sun and Polar bears, I love spending time with these guys, this had led to my next big project ‘the last eight’ where I will photograph and learn about the remain 8 bear species, hopefully finishing in a book.

    I’ve recently started to do some underwater photograph to allow me to tell even more of the story of the areas I work in. In 2016 my girlfriend and I visited northern Tonga to free dive with humpback whales which was an unforgettable experience.

    Being based in the North East of England, seabirds such as gannets and puffins are local favourites but birds of prey are my favourite avian subject.  Over the past 10 years I have spent a lot of time photographing Owls, Sea Eagles and Ospreys especially in Finland and Norway. Click here to see Brian’s favourite images.

     

    What social media do you use?

    Twitter – https://twitter.com/bwmphotouk

    Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bwmphoto

    You can keep up to date with my adventures on my blog and on my Facebook Group bwmphoto on facebook

    And on my own page at Brian on facebook

     

    When you’re not working or out doing photography what else do you do?

    I really enjoy listening to music (keeps me sane spending days in hides), going to watch live music, trying to play guitar, going to the gym, squash, mountain & road biking (including photographing races and Bradley Wiggins, photographed below winning the time trial stage of the tour of Britain in 2014), skiing ideally in big mountains in deep powder snow Japan is one of my favourite places to ski (photograph of me in Japan below thanks to yosuke homma for taking the shot), scuba diving, hiking (but usually with my camera!), watching movies, generally being outdoors, cooking (and eating!), travelling with my girlfriend and just watching wildlife.

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  • Awards and publications:

    There are lots of wildlife photography competitions, I usually enter the big 4: Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, Natures Best (Windland Smith Rice International), GDT European Wildlife Photographer of Year and Asferico.

    In the 2008 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition I came runner up in the Birds Behaviour section with my shot of a Black Vulture eating a Spectacled Caiman (through the eye socket) taken in Brazil in August 2007, for some reason it wasn’t selected for that years Natural History Museum Christmas card.  Being runner up (top 20 out of 35000 images) in portfolio 18 is to date the biggest accolade for my wildlife photography.

    In 2009 one of my favourite images of a baby orangutan was highly commended in Wildlife Photographer of the Year (Borneo Baby, in portfolio 19). It was used for the front cover of the natural history museum diary and is my most successful commercial photograph I’ve ever taken.

     

    I have featured several times in Travel Photographer of the year making it into books Journey 1 and 2. I won the ‘Raptors section of the Milvus wildlife photography competition in 2010 with a hunting Tiger photo, see the image here, came highly commended in 2011 with an Eider Duck shot and in 2012 one of my European brown bear was given second place in the free topic section. The quality of images in this little Hungarian competition is always excellent.

     

    In 2009 in the American Natures Best (Windland Smith Rice International) Awards an Orangutan and Jaguar where both highly commended, my little Orangutan was displayed in the Smithsonian as part of the exhibition and then selected for the 20 year celebration of the competition (https://www.naturesbestphotography.com).

    During the same year my orangutan baby was highly commended in GDT European Wildlife Photographer of Year. In the Asferico  2010 competition I was awared highly commended for my hunting Tigeress taken in Ranthambore National Park in Rajastan in India, and my komodo dragon taken on Rinca island in Komodo national park in Indonesia.

    I have been published in magazines, books and websites all over the world (click here for some examples). I have worked with BBC Wildlife, Practical Photography, Outdoor Photography, Amateur Photography, Camera Natura, Terre Sauvage, Bird watching to name a few.

    I support the Orangutan Foundation UK, Greenpeace and a number of other charities with my images. If you are a charity and think we could work together please get in contact.

    cameranaturaPP-Orangutan-story-1BE-mag-front-coverPortfolio-6Brian-Matthews-2008-Cal_Front-Coverbbcwildlife

        

  • Who have been your biggest influences?

    Over the years I’ve been lucky to spent time with many great wildlife photographers, environmentalists and travellers that have influenced, inspired and supported my work, below are a few of these people and others that I continue to learn from and aspire to be as good as:


    Theo-allof-home-pageTheo Allofs, an incredibly successful and down to earth photographer who I really enjoyed spending time over dinner and a drink in India. He is a multi awarding photographer, published in more magazines that I can list and his Pantanal and Australia books are exceptional. Theo’s amazing work can been found on his website http://theoallofs.photoshelter.com/ , Theo also leads small photography groups to some of the best wildlife locations in the world, join him here https://www.focusexpeditions.com.

     

     

     


    jonathon-B-home-pageJonathan Bjorklund – we met in Runde (Norway) photographing puffins, since we have travelled together to find the Musk Oxen in Dovrefjell national park (Norway), around the UK several times for sea birds, into the south of Argentina and Chile and on to Antarctica, he’s great photographer, strong outdoorsman and great travel companion. Check out his work at http://www.realphoto.se

     

     

     


    james-warwick James Warwick, really likes Zebras, I first met him in Finland when we where on the Russian border both chasing European Brown Bears and Wolverines, then somehow we crossed paths in our Landrover Defenders in the Maasi Mara! Great photographer and good friend, I look forward to getting back out in the field with him. Check out his excellent website, http://www.jameswarwick.co.uk.

     

     

     

     


    magnus-home-page Magnus Carlsson, who was a good friend, a strong wilderness man and great photographer, worked hard to set up perfect shots of his Native Swedish subjects. He learnt to fly and took some amazing landscapes over Sweden in a float plane that saw in come runner up in Wildlife photographer of the year in 2012 (click here to see Magnus’s image) . Sadly on the 22nd of Sept that summer he was killed in a float plane accident, doing what is loved, such a great loss. His website is http://www.taigavision.com shows the excellent work he and Linda did. The BBC also did a page on him which I wrote click here.

     

     


    chris-gChris Gomersall, part of the first wave of wildlife photographers, multi award winning and one of the few people I know who got paid as a job just to take wildlife photographs (RSPB official photographer), he is still one of the best bird photographers in the world and a really nice guy, who I have been lucky enough to meet several times. See his great work here http://www.chrisgomersall.co.uk/

     

     

     

     

     


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    Frans Lanting one of the early pioneers of wildlife photography his book eye to eye (find eye to eye here) was one the first wildlife photography book I owned and inspired me to travel and photograph wildlife and landscapes all over the world, http://www.lanting.com/. Frans uses his photography to communicate life and evolution, which cluminated in his book life and in his TED talk which is well worth a watch.

     

     

     

     

     


    vincent-MVincent Munier, the toughest photographer going, who’s images are artistic and minimalist of the hardest to find animals in the world. His books are excellent, artist and different to anything you will have seen before (http://www.vincentmunier.com/shop/en/) his images can be seen here http://vincentmunier.com/indexflash.html. I got his new book Adelie for Chrismas which shows his recent work from antarctica with undewater photographer Laurent Ballesta a great piece of work.

     

     


    staffan-W-home-pageStaffan Widstrand, a friend of mine got me ‘The Big Five’ a book on Scandinavia’s top five predators I was blown away by his style and his story telling through his images. He is one of the best in world, http://www.staffanwidstrand.se/ Staffan is the Director of the Wild Wonders of Europe Project one of the first multi photographer wildlife projects that produced thousands of excellent images and several books.

     

     

     

     


    mike-lane Mike Lane, Mike is a great photographer and stories teller, very handy when stuck in a hide waiting for Ospreys! His book on where to photograph wildlife in the UK should be on every UK nature photographer’s shelf. Have a look at his website here

     

     

     

     


    OFUK

    Orangutan foundation UK – I have been lucky enough to work with Ashley and her team for a few years now. They do a great job out in Borneo working closely with Yayorin and the Indonesian Government. Educating and saving much needed habitat to ensure the Orangutans and the rest of the forest wildlife survive find out more here. The BBC did a cover of my work with OFUK, find it here

     

     

     


    ole-martinOle Martin (AKA the eagle man) (http://norway-nature.com/), a trip in his boat will never be forgotten. From catching the fish to photographing the eagles. And the waffles. Great opportunities for lots of wildlife photography. I have spent many days on his boat and in his hides. Still one of the best wildlife photography trips in the world and something everyone should do at least once.

     

     

     

     


    M-LasaMiguel Lasa, a great phhotographer from Spain but based in the same town as me in the north east of England, Miguel won the impressions category in wildlife photogragher of the year in 2009 with his increbible rim lit polar bear. We have spent time photographing subjects in the UK, eagles in Norway and Ospreys in Finland. Check out his work, http://www.miguellasa.com/.

     

     

     

     


    Eero Kemila, one of the first wildlife photographers, a real outdoorsman and builds the best photography hides in the world. I have spent weeks in Finland under his guidance photographing European Brown Bears and some of the best birds in Europe, including the amazing Great Grey Owl, my blog on the silent hunter was my most recent trip with Eero, I hope to spend many more days in the field with him.

     

  • So let’s be technical for a moment, what photography equipment do you use?

    I have always used Canon cameras and lens, starting with my first film SLR a Canon EOS 300 in 2001, teamed up with a Sigma 70mm-300mm lens this started an expensive habit. I moved on to a Canon EOS 3 and Canon EOS 1V (which is the best camera I have ever used). I used and loved Fuji Chrome Provia 100f, 400f and occasionally Velvia, a well exposed slide of Provia 100f is so beautiful (I miss slide film). I moved to digital cameras with the introduction of the Canon EOS 1D MK2 and Canon 1Ds MK2, both great camera’s that I kept for 5 years before stepping to the Canon EOS 1D MKIV camera, theft resulted in a getting the Canon 1DX which I have used for the last 2 years. This is a fantastic camera with missed shots usually down to user error!! I also have a Canon 5D MK2 which I use for landscape work and for my underwater photography. I only use canon L series lens covering 14mm to 500mm. My most used lens are: Canon 500mm F4, followed by the Canon 70mm-200mm F2.8 IS USM II then the Canon 14mm F2.8 II, all great lens. I usually squeeze in a few Jaffa cakes as well.

    kit bag

    I use an Ikelite underwater housing with dome port, with my Canon 5D MK2 with either a 14mm f2.8 or 24 f1.4 len, I don’t do a huge amount of underwater work its main use came this year on my trip to Tonga to swim with Humpback whales (click here for the images and blog). I am looking to do more underwater work over the next few years including returning to the humpback whales in tonga. I have started to use GoPro camera’s to video my subjects and create timelapse films. I use the GoPro Hero 4 black for night timelapse work and video (I also attach this to my underwater housing), I modified a GoPro hero 3 black with a lens from Rage Cams for macro video and timelapse work.

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    All my kit gets squeezed into a LowePro PhotoTrekker which travels with me all over the world. I rarely use a tripod as I prefer to use bean bags or more often than not hand holding (bad habit!). I do have a Gitzo 1548 tripod that I use with an Arca Swiss ball head combines with a Wimblery sidekick, in some hides you can use just the ball head and side kick but more often than not a bean bag is best.

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    I have a PC-based digital dark room and produce prints on an Epson 2400. I use Breeze Browser for my image sorting (and lots of deleting, it’s the fastest tool I have found that allows you to check 4 images sharpness at once) and Photoshop are my main software tools. I use Western Digital hard drives alongside a Sony Viao series laptop when out in the field (I will need to find an alternative next time as Sony no longer make laptops!).

Contact bwmphoto
Tel: +44 (0) 7725072360
Email: brian@bwmphoto.com