IN FOCUS - Ben Hall
Posted on 24th May, 2019
Leading professional wildlife photographer, Ben Hall, recently joined the Dawn 2 Dusk Photography team. As you may already know, Ben is a multi-award-winning photographer, best known for his atmospheric images of nature. But to help you get to know him better, we thought we’d ask him a few quick questions…
Q) So, when did you begin taking photos and why?
BH) I started quite early while still at school. I was 13 or 14 when I got my first camera, a Minolta disc camera. I was soon hooked and studied photography, from GCSE level through to college. It was at this time that I got my first SLR, a Pentax ME Super.
Q) You must need an intimate knowledge of your subjects to capture the images you do. Have you always had a passion for nature?
BH) Yes, the passion for nature came long before my interest in photography. Growing up, I can still remember being glued to the TV screen every time a wildlife documentary came on. I really do believe it would be impossible to do this job without having a passion for the subject.
Q) You have a gorgeous young family. How do you balance the demands of being pro and also being a dad?
BH) Thank you. It can be difficult to achieve a good balance between work and family life. I work away fairly regularly, which is tough on the kids, and my wife! But, when I’m at home and working in the office I see the kids more than most dads, so it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. I also try to give myself the weekends off to spend with the family, although this isn’t always possible!
Q) This is probably an impossible question to answer, but do you have a favourite image – and if so, why?
BH) That’s a tough question, as my favourite image changes regularly! Usually it’s a recent image that I’m particularly proud of, but there are a few standout shots that I feel represent my best work. An image showing a flock of Chilean flamingos flying over the Andes is certainly up there. I like images that convey a sense of place, draw the viewer into the subject’s world, and tell a story. I think it’s important to evoke a particular atmosphere, too. This is one such image, where everything seemed to come together at just the right moment. It was pretty much unplanned, unlike many of my other images.
Q) Your first Dawn 2 Dusk Photography workshop will be in The Cairngorms next January photographing winter wildlife. What can our clients expect from this workshop?
BH) The Cairngorms is an incredible place and there are few places in the UK that I would rather hold a workshop. Clients can expect to get up close to some of Scotland’s most iconic wildlife such as red squirrels, red deer and mountain hares. I’m hoping that we will also be blessed with some wintry weather so that we can capture some atmospheric images of wildlife in the Scottish landscape. Fingers crossed!
Q) What is the best thing about leading a workshop?
BH) Wildlife photography can be a lonely job, so getting to meet new people and seeing regular clients again is a pleasant change from spending hours and days at a time on my own! I also very much enjoy seeing people progressing with their photography over time; it is a very rewarding part of the job.
Q) And the worst?
BH) Well that would have to be relying on the weather! As you know, we are at the mercy of the Gods when it comes to the weather and it isn't always optimal conditions on the day of a workshop. Saying that, I do believe there isn’t such a thing as bad light when it comes to wildlife photography. With a bit of creative ingenuity I think it is possible to create great images whatever the weather. It isn't much fun being out in the pouring rain though!
Q) Do you prefer to travel, or capture images of wildlife close to home?
BH) Another hard question to answer because there are advantages and disadvantages to both. While I do enjoy travelling (except for missing the family!) to exotic places and seeing some amazing wildlife, I always tend to miss my local patch. Visiting a certain location time and time again can be hugely rewarding, and it allows me to build-up an intimate knowledge and understanding of the place and the wildlife that lives there. For practical reasons this can only really be done locally, and this is what I feel most drawn to.
Q) You’ve picked up a number of significant awards for your photography. Is there a key to capturing an award-winning image?
BH) Photography is subjective, so I always find it difficult to select images to enter into competitions, and I am often surprised by which images are awarded and which are rejected. It may sound like a cliche but I think it’s important to think outside the box. If I’m tackling a common subject, I try to find new ways of representing it. I feel that images that are unusual and make the viewer look twice will stand out from the crowd and gain a better chance of success.
Q) Away from photography, what does Ben Hall do to relax? What would be your perfect day?
BH) Photography is such a time consuming business, so away from work I like to relax and spend quality time with the family. Unsurprisingly, I have always been an outdoor person and love climbing and mountain biking, so I guess my perfect day would have to fit in one of those! I also enjoy playing the guitar, which is the best stress reliever in the World!
To learn more about Ben, and view the workshops he is leading, visit: Tutors