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David Maitland

I love collecting stuff and still pick up natural bric-a-brac on my travels

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Featured Photographer

David Maitland


I spent my childhood in the Scottish seaside town of St. Andrews fishing, observing nature and beachcombing. I love collecting stuff and still pick up natural bric-a-brac on my travels - a skeletonised leaf or a shed feather. I collected a zoology degree, and my wife Pamela, from St. Andrews University and a PhD in Zoology from the University of New South Wales , Australia . I now spend all my time photographing wonderful things or highlighting environmental issues. In 2008 I won the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year (GDT) and 2 categories in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year. My work has won numerous other international awards and has been widely published.

Website: www.davidmaitland.com/


Why nature photography?
Nature photography allows me to capture the fleeting and ephemeral – the untouchable - to give me a closer, longer-lasting insight into the beauty and wonder of Nature. I never feel in conflict with Nature and usually feel most comfortable in the wild.

What's best about it?
To be out in the wilds and connect with an animal, to share a moment together is the very best – getting “looked back at.” The whole experience is enhanced when other people react emotionally to my photographs and/or learn something new, either about themselves or the organism.

What's worst about it?
I love it all – the bad moments merely enhance the whole experience – if it were easy I probably wouldn’t do it.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
I am particularly fond of “creepy crawlies” and “crunchy” animals (snails and arthropods), reptiles and amphibians – but I like to encounter species I have never seen before. I love the crisp light in January in the UK and southern Europe .

What's in the bag?
All Canon stuff - 1Ds MkII & 5D Mk II. Various macro and special lenses, flashes, 16-35mm, 70-200mm IS f2.8 and 400mm f4, Monopod, a variety of bits and bobs…. if I can carry it all – horrid in tropical jungles!

Your specialities / skills?
Not sure really – I like getting close and framing tightly. I like form and light. I like small things and am really good at callisthenics… since I usually handhold and contort myself for hours trying to get that magic angle.

What will you do in your next life?
Same thing – except I will miss out the academic detour…

3 tips for beginners
1. Find your inner eye – the lens that seems to match the perspective through which you see the world – for me it is about 90mm.

2. Take pictures for yourself first and be super self-critical.

3. Practice in the garden.


To Macedonia. To photograph the smaller creatures - especially those inhabiting its National parks. Lake Prespa offers a wonderful opportunity to work in a variety of special habitats teeming with some unique wildlife. I aim to explore the small islands in the middle of the lakes and the steep slopes rising on either side with their variety of forest and arid habitats. I am really looking forward to this mission since I especially love the quality of light that is so characteristic of this part of Europe .

Best Picture

Best Picture
Smooth Newt

I do not have “best pictures” – I am always striving for my next picture to be my “best picture” This one is the one I like least here because it reminds me why I do what I do!

What's cool about it?
The almost abstract view and wonderful expression on the newt’s face. The sparkly, soft backlighting and very shallow depth of focus.

Could it be better?
Yes - I was trying to get the eyes clearer than this - I feel that there is a better portrait to be captured. However, only by taking the picture did I discover how thick the slime is covering the newt’s body, so much that it obscures the eyes which are what I was after in the first place – it is this “failure” that keeps me going!

Behind the Scene
Lying flat to get my camera at water level – being careful not to submerge it in the process – trying to get the right angle and moment – lying motionless - I can spend hours doing this - a dog-walker came over to me to ask if I was OK? – we shared a laugh since she told me I looked like a collapsed or dead person!

Date: 5th May 2006
Location: Garden pond, Calne, Wiltshire , UK.
Gear: Canon Eos 1ds mkII, 65mm f2.8 macro. Aperture priority, natural light. Hand held.

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