Espen Helland – Leaving your day job to be a full time photographer
We came across wildlife and nature photographer Espen Helland online and fell in love with his shots of the Natural World. Here, we find out about what it takes to be a wildlife photographer.
Why did you get into Photography?
I was in South Africa for my Masters degree in Wildlife Conservation. We were transporting animals to different national parks. It’s was pretty exhilarating stuff, helicopters would chase various large mammals straight at me in the back of a truck. I began to realise it’s crazy not to document some of the amazing mega fauna I was seeing.
How did you get into it?
Honestly, photography has always been an on and off hobby for me. The last 3 years I got the bug photographing birds and mammals in Scotland where I was living.
You’ve recently been shooting the Dusky Leaf Monkey in Malaysia, what was that like?
Having grown up in Norway, I’m used to 10-15C. A year ago my partner and I sold our place in Scotland. We travelled Europe, settled in Thailand for a while and found ourselves in Malaysia where a friend had left us his flat and car. I drove the car out to the jungle with a group of researchers. Lugging my gear around in humidity is punishing. I wear long sleeves and trousers to protect myself from mosquitoes, I leave the jungle completely soaked.
Darkness is my biggest challenge. Shooting becomes very technical, controlling exposure is difficult so balancing shutterspeed/aperture/ISO is important.
What Equipment do you use?
Canon 7D Mark 2. I usually use a Canon 70-200mm F2.8 lens, it’s great for use in the jungle and usually gives more light. I also have a wide angle lens and a Canon 150-600mm lens.
It’s important to pack enough food and water, I never know how long I’ll be on a shoot for. My favourite snacks are Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, unfortunately they melt in tropical conditions so in the jungle I have water and a nutri-bar.
I’ve been travelling a lot this year. Montenegro has been my favourite. It’s so varied, the coast has some great architecture and in the mountains the scenery is incredible. I’ll be travelling back to my homeland Norway later this year, which is a special place for me.
Worst day in photography?
The week after I purchased a 150-600mmm lens. I was in Leith, Edinburgh I slipped into a pond and got water in the lens. Completely ruined it! I have to say though, the worst day taking photos is better than the best day doing anything else.
Follow Espen on twitter @EspenHelland7