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#CreatorConversations AMA: Paul Nicklen On Breaking Into Conservation Photography, Favorite Cameras, Memorable Wildlife Encounters & More

#CreatorConversations is an AMA (Ask Me Anything) series hosted by @sonyalpha on Instagram. As part of the series, we were joined by conservation photographer Paul Nicklen (@paulnicklen). See some of the highlights below as the Sony Artisan shares some of his favorite wildlife encounters, photography tips, and more. Visit the Instagram post for the full AMA and make sure you’re following @sonyalpha and #CreatorConversations to stay connected.

“Once people fall in love with a place or an animal, they will want to know more about it, and they will want to protect it. I believe that photography has the power to do this.” – Paul Nicklen #CreatorConversations

"Do you have any tips for someone wanting to start wildlife/conservation photography?" – @joshua_greenwood_

Paul: “Once you build up your skillset including both stills and video shooting, editing, multimedia and etc, lend your skills to both scientific and conservation organizations. Often the best scientists are the worst story-tellers. Some aren't but it is rare to have someone who can do both. Be their visual voice and help them get their important conservation work out to the world.”

“How would you recommend all of us who are trying to follow your footsteps to offset our carbon footprint from travel, consuming electronics, etc?” – @pablo.fregoso

Paul: “We need to shoot stories closer to home and not always be needing the latest and greatest. The best camera is the one you can afford and the one you have with you.”

“What does your process/approach look like for wildlife photography?” – @s.stephanian

Paul: “I generally don't force a situation. The one thing I have is time. Endless time and I let the animals dictate the situation. I am just a fly on the wall. Animals do amazing things and you just have to be ready. If you are stressing an animal out then they will not act naturally and that will show in your pictures. Be patient. Don't force bad light with fancy filters...wait for great light.”

“What is your favourite camera gear kit? The camera, lenses and equipment you most often tend to use whilst out photographing?” – @nyvoll

Paul: “I kind of use them all and I love the new α7R IV. If someone told me two years ago that I would be shooting 10fps at 61megapixels, I would not have believed them. Now that I am more into large fine art prints, this has been a game changer for me.”

“What was your favourite encounter with a marine animal underwater? And if you could choose to dive anywhere in the world, where would you go?” – @maxwelhohn

Paul: “There have been many underwater encounters that I will never forget. Leopard seals in Antarctica, orcas of Norway (although that tourism industry needs stricter controls), humpbacks of Tonga, sea lions of BC, and the list goes on. I would keep diving in Antarctica. 500 feet of visibility and curious animals.”

“Do you use lens filters, such as ND filters or circular polarizers, in your work?” – @brady426

Paul: “I definitely never use any color filters above water. I rarely use polarizers as that means I am trying to make up for harsh light but there is a time and place for them. I always carry them but almost never use them. ND's on the other hand are an important tool if you want to achieve certain effects. They allow you a shallow depth of field, long shutter speeds and etc. I use them a little more often but generally I just wait for great light.”

"What kind of photography do you think beginners should focus on?" – @_.clickaworld._

Paul: “You have to shoot what interests you. Study other people's photography and then don't copy it. Macro is important but I don't enjoy the process unless it is underwater. And, there are great macro photographers out there. I love wide angle photography and that is especially true for wildlife. I love sense of place photography. I use telephoto's but they are a stepping stone to wider lenses. But, you need to become proficient at all of it if you want to be a storyteller.”

"What is the most photogenic animal to capture?" – @mtc537

Paul: “I think they are all incredible. From insects to whales and everything in between. It is all about the mood, the light, the feeling and artistry in that image.”

See the full AMA here.


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