Meet Owen Hearn, from Stewkley, Bedfordshire, UK. Take a look at his photos – then guess his age. It’s 12. He likes aviary photography, which is obvious at a quick glance.
Shocking, I know, but Hearn shows tremendous dedication to his photography, and has knowledge beyond his years.
“ I am 12 years old and live in Stewkley in Bedfordshire. I started photography last year and have mainly been doing wildlife photography but I also do some macro and landscape. I use a Nikon D90, 300mm f4 and 1.4x tc for my wildlife and 18-105 kit for wide angle and 50mm f1.8 for close ups (I have a SB700 as well but I don’t use it much).
I got into photography by getting a little compact a few years ago and now have gone from a Nikon P100 to a D90. I started wildlife photography through visiting a dairy farm surrounded by birds and wildlife, and it is now my main place for my wildlife photography.”
Do you like living on a farm? How has that helped you in photography?
I don’t actually live on the farm (we live a mile away) but the farm belongs to my grandparents and we are there every day, am not sure what we would do if we didn’t have the farm!. The farm gives me a lot of opportunities with wildlife but you definitely have to know where to look for it. I have been amazed to find so much wildlife there that I wasn’t aware of until I started photography. So the answer is yes! The farm is awesome!
It has helped my photography by giving me lots of things to photograph from foxes and kestrels to cows and abstracts.
Are you really into aviary?
Bird photography is my favorite type of photography because I can be outdoors (I love being outdoors looking for wildlife) and the birds always can make a different photograph. Two pictures of a red kite never look the same if you find a different angle or a stormy cloud comes behind the bird. I don’t mind bird watching but it is not the same with out the camera, I am definitely a photographer first, birder second. As much as I like watching the wildlife, the camera makes it a challenge to not just spot the animals and birds but to get every setting right to catch the image.
When did you start liking wildlife?
I started liking wildlife from a very young age as I was into outdoor survival and watched Ray Mears a lot which made me want to get outside and do something and then I got more interested in wildlife and birds which has stayed with me in photography. Getting into birds really kicked of when I was starting photography, and has grown even greater now my 300mm f4 is here as I was always into wildlife but birds are my favorite now.
When did you really get into birds?
The hardest part about shooting birds would have to be getting close enough to them, I am always wanting to get closer to get even more detailed shots. I like the challenge that a darker sky gives you (owl shots!) and having to think about aperture priority and understanding exposure compensation if the bird is up against a a bright sky.
What’s the hardest part about shooting birds? In a normal session, how long does it take to get “that one” shot?
A normal “session” would range in how long I am out by what I am photographing as the owls will be out from 8:20pm – 8:40 then it will be too dark, for photos of other birds such as kestrels I get up at 5 am and go down the farm as the birds are most active and I will come back to the farmhouse when not much is happening and then go back up the fields a few hours before sunrise.
I don’t just do wildlife though, I really like to try a bit of everything from landscapes to HDR’s to abstract stuff, its just that the wildlife is on my doorstep so that is what I tend to get most of. I really need to try some people shots but they just don’t hold as much interest for me as the animals do!
Tell us something completely random about yourself.
Although I am only 12 years old, I have to carry my birth certificate around with me because I am so big! I tried to get into an air show with my auntie where under 16′s were free the other weekend and they didn’t believe I was under 16!
What’s the most rewarding thing about bird photography?
The most rewarding thing about bird photography I think would be when you get back and get them on the computer and see you have some nice shots or if you get them printed and they look good and detailed. It’s also really rewarding when you go out to see something specific and end up seeing something unexpected but it turns out to be a really great shot (ie, going out to photograph birds and finding a family of fox cubs playing in the field).
How did you obtain your 300mm f/4? That’s a heck of an expensive lens!
I got my 300mm f4 by selling a lot of things that I own but it was definitely worth it. My parents have an auction rooms that sells lots of different things and I managed to buy some pentax cameras in the auction, then re-sold them for more money on ebay – sold my ipod and everything!!
You’re starting off real strong, real early! What do you plan to do as you get older?
I haven’t really got much of an idea of where I am going to go with the photography. My aim at the moment is to convince my school that I can go on day release at 14 years old to college to study photography which means I really need to impress them with a portfolio and that I am serious about cameras. I have a few jobs in the pipeline already (none of them paid so far, but I am using them to get experience and contacts) including taking pictures for a farm contractor and his team. The local football team has asked me to take pictures of all of their important matches, and I sent some of my pictures taken at an American football match (MK Pathfinders) in a local town to the manager and he got two of them published in the local paper which was good. I have a christening to take pictures at and also someones wedding party!. All of this I am doing in the hope that I will get some good contacts and a break in the photography world, it is good to talk to lots of different people.
View Owen’s Flickr
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