Q&A: Kevin Morgans - Wildlife Photographer
We are very pleased to welcome muiti-award-winning wildlife photographer, Kevin Morgans, to the BearPhoto team for the 2020 season. Kevin’s work has been awarded in some the world’s most prestigious photographic competitions including the Nature Image Awards, Festival De L’Oiseau, BPOTY, BWPA and Outdoor Photographer Of The Year. Kevin will be guiding our 2020 ‘Finnish High Summer’ photographic adventure (August 19th - 25th).
Q: When did you start photographing wildlife and why?
Growing up I wasn't interested in photography, living on the coast I spent my days searching rockpools and beaches looking for signs of wildlife. It wasn't until 2013 when I traveled across British Columbia and the Canadian Rockies with my small compact camera, that I began to take an interest in photography. This part of Canada is one of the most beautiful areas on the planet, with endless lakes, mountains and expansive wilderness. At this point in my life, I had no clue how to use a camera, and I used the simple point and shoot method. Once I'd returned home and looked through my images, I was a bit disappointed. Thankfully I had planned to return the following summer, so decided to pick myself up a cheap DSLR to teach myself the basics of photography through books, magazines, and the internet. I then put this into practice down at my local pond. From that very first session I was hooked. It was only logical that I would then combine my two passions, wildlife and photography, and the rest is history.
Q: What was your first experience with a wild bear?
My first experience with a wild bear was around 6 years ago during a road trip across Canada. One evening I was out hiking with a few friends near the Whistler ski resort, when we spotted two black shapes higher up on the ski slopes. We decided to sit and wait as the shapes continued to move down the slope. Once they got a little closer we soon realized it was a mother black bear and her young cub. At this point I started freaking out I'd never seen a wild bear before! We sat and watched as the bear's continued to graze along the slopes for hours. A few of the locals walked past and wondered what we were getting to so excited about. Whistler is home to around 60 resident black bears, and the people have gotten used to living alongside these amazing animals.
Q: What has been the highlight of your photographic career to date?
In terms of accolades, my highlight would be the past year as I've had great success in some of the biggest photographic competitions. Including being named runner up in the Nature Photographer Of The Year competition, being awarded in Environmental Photographer Of The Year and having my image chosen as the cover for the BWPA book. But my highlight would have to be traveling to Alaska and photograhing the coastal brown bears. This had long been a dream of mine, and to finally get the opportunity to go was one I'll never forget. The moment that will stick with me forever, is lying on the ground with an adult male brown bear running straight down the barrel of my lens to catch a salmon just meters from where I was laying. It ‘s one of the most exhilarating experiences any wildlife photographer can have!
Q: If you could photograph any species what would it be?
That is a tough question, there are so many fantastic creatures out there I would like to see and photograph one day. If I had to say it would be one of the most misunderstood animals and true icons of our wilderness the Grey Wolf. Many people fear wolves and think of them as a threat to humans. When you are young children are often told Nursery rhymes and fairy tales depicting the wolf as "big and bad". Whereas in reality, they are shy timid and much more afraid of us than we are of them. I was very jealous of the awesome footage the Bear Photo team took last year of the wolf pack howling a truly incredible experience
Q: What are you’re photographic goals for the near future?
At the start of February I will be heading to Scotland for 6 weeks running my popular mountain hare workshops. This is one of my favorite places in the UK and I can't wait to head back up there. Following on from this, I’ll be heading further north to spend three months camping and working with the fantastic seabird colonies around the UK from St Kilda to Hermaness NNR, this is an exciting project and one I can't wait to kick off.
Q: What equipment do you shoot with and why?
Since first picking up a camera I have shot with Canon. There is no reason I shoot with Canon over Nikon, other than when I very first started photography I was given a small Canon camera body and over the years this is the setup I know and trust. My go-to combo at the moment is the Canon 1DX and the 500mm f/4 prime lens with a variety of smaller lenses such as my trusty 70-200mm and 24-70mm.
Q: An iconic image of yours is the Polar bears playing with litter - What is the story behind this image, and how does it make you feel?
I took this series of images last Summer sailing around the Svalbard archipelago. Svalbard is situated midway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole and is a pristine Arctic wilderness. This moment was very much a bittersweet moment to witness. On one hand, it was fantastic to find a mother and her two cubs resting. But on the other, it was very sad to witness the cubs playing with industrial plastic waste. This scene was a glimpse into the ever-deepening plastic crisis our world is facing. Each year roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic waste ends up in our oceans. Most of it, like the plastic in my image is designed for single use and then thrown away. Once discarded it can remain in the environment for centuries, breaking down over time into smaller pieces called "micro plastics". Some of the smallest organisms in our oceans such as plankton and filter-feeding fish can mistake theses micro plastics as food. Once swallowed, they are then released into the food chain, and the fat-soluble poisons accumulate with each step up in the food chain. This can ultimately pose a threat to the top predators in the Arctic such as polar bears and orca. I was very pleased that this series of images went ‘viral’, being awarded in Environmental Photographer Of The Year and gaining massive media coverage worldwide. Yes, we can talk scientifically about micro-plastics to raise awareness around the issue but sometimes we need images that the public can relate to, and this image (below) does exactly that.
If you would like to join Kevin on an unforgettable adventure in 2020, please visit the ‘Finnish High Summer’ tour page by clicking the tab below.
You can follow Kevins work on his instagram page (17k followers!) or alternatively visit his website, both of which are linked below!