Behind the Lens with Rachel Bigsby

03 December 2018 | Posted in Emma Chaplin , wildlife photography
Behind the Lens with Rachel Bigsby
Atlantic Puffin photographed on Skomer Island Marine Nature Reserve, April 2018 © Rachel Bigsby

We've invited Sussex wildlife photographer and filmmaker Rachel Bigsby to do a takeover of the Trust's Instagram account for a week. She tells us more about herself and her photography. 

I’ve been taking photos since I was 15 years old. I’m self-taught, and have learnt through trial, error and experimentation. I began by taking pictures of dandelion silhouettes and dewdrops on flowers. Then sunsets and landscapes. I love the ocean and rocky beaches too. In the last two years, I’ve been working on a wildlife filmmaking and photography project, following the journey of a group of cygnets.

Cygnets East Sussex 2018 (c) Rachel Bigsby

I use a basic tripod and the Nikon D800 with a Sigma 120-400mm lens.

Looking back on my first pictures, they seem a bit flat. I’ve got more texture and depth since realising the importance of light, for contrast and shape or for capturing warmth in an image or using light in reflections. 

RB1 sevensisterssnow

I’ve always lived in East Sussex and my love of wildlife has come from my grandad, who was interested in the natural world. What we have on our doorstep is unique and special. When they see my pictures, people react to realising that they are seeing wildlife that lives only a few miles from their homes. 

In terms of being respectful to the subject, I don’t get too close. Even if I miss the perfect shot, I’d prefer not to disturb the wildlife. I don’t want images of animals that are distressed or exhibiting defensive behaviour because of what I'm doing. My work is about raising awareness of the vulnerability of wildlife. I want people to want to protect it. 

Fallow Deer photographed in Sussex, October 2018 (c) R Bigsby

I most enjoy photographing birds of prey I find locally. Buzzards, kestrels, sparrow hawks, peregrine falcon and red kite. I was lucky enough to spot the latter three for the first time this summer. And I never include anything manmade in my photos, I want them as natural as possible. 

The puffin photo was taken on my first ever trip to Skomer Island earlier this year. It was a long drive, and there was thick fog and drizzle. By the end of the day, the weather transformed. Puffins move quickly and unfortunately I dropped my camera and broke the auto focus and view finder. It was almost disastrous, but I managed to get this shot just before catching the boat home. 

I’d most like to take my camera to the Cairngorms in winter for the big birds of prey, or anywhere in the ocean where I could see orcas in the wild.  

In terms of photographic heroes, I love the Canadian conservationist Paul Nicklen and his wife Cristina Mittemeier. They do a lot of good work relating to our oceans with @Sea_Legacy.

Red Deer photographed in Bushy Park, Teddington, November 2018 (c) R Bigsby

Rachel Bigsby self portrait

Instagram: @rachel.wildlifephotoandfilm

See more of Rachel's work here. 


  • 04 Dec 2018 11:55:00

    Great to see young people starting out on a lifelong adventure. It’s not often one gets to see wild Fallow deer looking relaxed in-front of the camera, but Rachel’s respect of boundaries comes across in her photos.

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