About Niall Benvie
Niall has worked as a professional outdoor photographer and writer since graduating from Dundee University (Geog., Hons.) in 1993 after an earlier career as a fruit farmer. His special interest is in the nature / culture dynamic, although his writing covers topics as diverse as digital imaging and peat extraction issues in the Baltic states, eco-tourism and image critique.
Author and illustrator of several internationally published books, he is also a founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
Today, Niall has moved away from classical wildlife and landscape photography and concentrates instead on various communication projects where words often feature alongside multiple images. "Professionally, there's not much point in producing generic nature imagery nowadays so I spend as much time photographing what's on my mind as what's in front of my eyes."
Niall has two children with differing feelings about wild nature....
- Founder of the Scottish Nature Photography Fair (1991)
- Pioneer of amphibious hide bird photography in the UK (1994)
- Organiser of Photographers for Latvia (2002)
- Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (2005)
- Initiator of the Photo-Lobbying concept (2005)
- Founding Director of Wild Wonders of Europe (2006)
- Co- founder of Rewilding Childhood (2007)
- Co-founder Meet Your Neighbours (2009)
- Chief copy writer for 2020Vision (2010)
- Thousands of publication credits, internationally, through agents and his own on-line library
- More than 500 000 published words - five books, reviews and opinion-forming articles,. Books include: The Art of Nature Photography;Creative Landscape Photography (UK, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, UK and US editions); Scotland’s Wildlife (with NTS); Outdoor Photography Masterclass; Caledonia with Pete Cairns .
- BioFoto, Trondheim, Norway 2004
- Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Tel Aviv, 2005
- World Wilderness Congress, Anchorage, 2005
- BVNF (Belgian Nature Photographers) congress, 2005
- Wild Photos (NPOY), Bristol 2006
- Wunderwelten Festival, Lindau, Germany 2007
- AEFONA, Granada, Spain 2007
- Green Exercise NHS / FC, Cumbernauld, 2007
- Wild Photos, London, 2009
- GDT, Lünen, Germany 2010
- CAM Year of Photography, Alicante, 2011
- AEFONA, Alcala, Spain, 2012
- Keynote speaker at Europarc conference, Genk, Belgium, 2012
“I like working in places few other people have photographed well before. And that needn’t be anywhere very remote. I don’t do “nature photo brothels” where people pay their money to shoot the same animals in the same settings that hundreds of other photographers have done before them.
I need to take/make photographs; it’s more than something I like doing – it’s a craving that needs to be satisfied. And it doesn’t ever go away.”
Of his white background work:
“I’ve been shooting plants, reptiles, invertebrates and amphibians against pure white backgrounds for a four of years now as a way to reveal features often missed or obscured in traditional photographic approaches. These pictures celebrate the subject’s form rather than commenting on its place in an ecosystem. While this is hardly original, the twist I’ve put on it is to backlight the Perspex behind the subject. Not only does this ensure a uniform R 255 G 255 B 255 background (saving designers from having to make cut outs) but also allows the subject’s translucent qualities to be shown. The resulting images are virtually shadow free, rendering maximum detail. And crucially, all the pictures are made in a field studio rather than back at home. This work is now founding an outlet in the successful Meet Your Neighbours project.”
Of his landscape deconstructions.
"Think how non-photographers walking through a woodland perceive it. Do they see it as a photograph – with a foreground, middle distance and background, all carefully composed? No – most people see “branches”, “leaves, “bark”, “moss” – vignettes rather than compositions: photographers try to synthesise all these elements into a single image but it is inevitably unrepresentative of the forest as a whole. It doesn't even reflect the common experience of place as most people don't go out at dawn or dusk when the photographer prefers to work. What I am working on now is a “deconstruction” of various landscapes where a variety of each of the key visual elements – branches, bark, water etc., is represented in four 2 foot by 6 foot panels each comprised of 50 elements arranged from the sky to the river. In order that the images work together as a whole work, the composition of each element does nothing to drawn attention to it. A certain randomness in subject selection and composition adds to the authenticity of the representation.
This way of thinking is an evolution of the panels of bark and stone I’ve been producing for the last few years – and altogether more ambitious."