When people ask what I photograph and I say "wildlife", I then get asked what I specialise in. It is then I get some strange looks when I say "Nothing, I'll photograph any wildlife." There seems to be this conception that as a wildlife photographer you HAVE TO specialise in one particular subject matter, and those of us that choose to be a bit more less specific about our choices are seen as being a bit strange.
This also got me thinking about those wildlife photographers who don't seem to care too much about the 'life' part of 'wildlife' photography, choosing to concentrate more on getting the shot at all costs over the fact they will not photograph certain creatures.
I'm still amazed that some photographers have a disdain for some wildlife over others. Okay let me be clear here; there is nothing wrong in having a preference of subject matter when out shooting. For me if I had to rank my wildlife photography choice subjects it would start with anything with fur and four legs, followed closely by anything with feathers and talons, and pretty much anything else after that. You see for me is about the 'wildlife'.
Spending time getting to know your subject and even learning about how they cope and survive day to day should be important regardless of subject matter. Just because I go out to photograph brown hares and can't find any doesn't mean I come home having not photographed anything, when I could have spent the same amount of time photographing great crested grebes because they were in a nearby location. Being open and prepared to photograph *any* wildlife is surely what wildlife photography is about. Watching and understanding more about a creature you may have known very little about can be as fascinating and mentally stimulating as taking a photograph.
I find it strange when I hear other photographers say they cannot stand a certain type of bird or mammal, and will openly admit to choosing another creature because it's more dramatic/they stand more chance of getting an eye catching shot. Strange indeed when even common rabbits or pigeons can be photographed in a way that stirs the soul and makes people give them a second glance. It's not just creatures from the fur and fangs arena that are always guaranteed to get your work noticed. Sometimes taking the time to get a dramatic or eye catching shot of a 'dull' creature can be more rewarding as more skill is required to get that shot.
It's worth remembering that any living creature has its own way of dealing with the ‘circle of life’, finding a mate, breeding and rearing young and eventually death. Be that a field mouse or a red kite, a wood pigeon or an otter, from a photography view there is still a story to tell, so why discriminate one species over another?