A little while ago I went to Richmond Park as I had an urge to photograph some deer. As my London readers might know, it is not an issue to locate deer in that particular park although getting close to them can be a bit tricky and it is deemed to be dangerous.
Anyway, to approach the pack I had to get through the flock of other photographers who were constantly attempting to get closer to the animal but essentially spooking them away.
After spending some time, trying to locate one singled out deer so that I would not get in the way of the ‘big lenses’. I managed to corner off a younger deer that none of the other photographers seemed to be paying attention to
The deer did not like me too much, no matter how hard I tried to make a sly approach he always took a step back. I think he was a bit agitated and fed up of us. He also appeared to be a bit camera shy. Every time I pointed the lens at him, he quickly hid his face behind a tree or in the long grass. After about five minutes alone time, we were finally spotted.
Another photographer sensed the opportunity and begun to approach through the long grass, making so much sound that even I felt distressed. It was almost like he was intentionally stepping on twigs and kicking the long dry grass to spook my subject. Upon his arrival, he nods at me in silence and turns on his Canon.
He then proceeds to approach the animal in a manner he thought to be silent. As he walked around the animal trying to find a good angle my attention quickly turned on him as I wondered if there was a technique that he would follow. Besides his conspiracy to get in front of my lens, lack of patience and his constant shuffling through the grass – I could not observe any tips I thought to be useful. Eventually, I decided to move on and find me a different subject.
A short walk later I discovered three large bucks resting in the shade. There was nobody bothering them other than a couple of ‘IPhonetographers’ from a distance. I took a couple of snaps as I walked towards them. When I was about six meters from the deer I took a knee and begun to devise my approach plan.
- Sit on the ground, within the peripheral vision of the animal and I would stay low.
- Turn my back or shoulder to the animal and pay him no attention.
- Approach slowly and periodically whilst staying ‘small’ and not making any eye contact.
This technique took me about 15 minutes to shuffle and crawl myself closer to the deer than I had ever been. I am sure I could off done it a bit quicker but I did not want to spook the animal.
In the process, there was a moment where he lowered his antlers at me. I believe he did that just to reinforce his dominance and show me that he was aware of me hence I proceeded anyway.
Soon, I found myself laying nearly at an arm’s reach from a large male bucks.
For a while, I stared into his eyes admiring the beauty and power that was within him. He seemed to be comfortable having me lay next to him. As minutes went past, I got more and more comfortable making quicker and more sudden movements. This one was not camera shy, not by any stretch. He even let me touch his face and antlers. When I reached out towards his nose, he came the rest of the way.
This was very exciting for me, I was spending some quality time with a new friend. He posed for my images and we both posed for passing by IPhonetographers.
Eventually, he decided that there was some other place he had to be. So, he simply got up, scratched his balls with his antlers and strolled away.
I am sure that in the true wilderness my approach wouldn’t have been so simple, as the beasts there won’t be so used to people. Yet, I still cannot wait to see the outcome.