ELK TALES X PHOTOGRAPHER JAN WEGENER
Capturing those moments that you might only come across once in a lifetime is what Jan Wegener does best. One of Jan's images provided inspiration behind the artwork by Meeri Anneli, which made it onto our ELK T-shirt, raising funds for the recovery of the Glossy Black-Cockatoo who lost over 50% of its habitat on Kangaroo Island due to the Australian bushfires. The T-shirt was a huge success and 100% of the profits totalling over $11,000 was donated to the Nature Foundation South Australia. Jan's photograph was not one of chance but the result of days of work, waiting to photograph this beautiful yet endangered species. We chat with Jan about how his job has taken him around the world and how to capture the perfect picture.
Your photography has taken you all around the world, what is one of the most interesting places you have visited so far?
I am originally from Europe, so I’d actually say a few places in Australia! A couple of years ago we drove from Melbourne to Darwin and back. While there were many spectacular places along the way, like Kings Canyon, the Painted Desert or Gunlom Falls, seeing the beauty and diversity of this country on the journey itself was simply amazing. Endless deserts one day, lush hot springs the next! And so many birds to photograph!
Tell us about Kangaroo Island where you photographed the Glossy Black-Cockatoo, what makes this location so special?
What surprised me the most was how big the island actually is. You can see it on a map, but only once you get there you realise that you have to drive many hundred kilometers there to see it all. Knowing this also makes it so devastating to see how much beautiful habitat was lost there. I spent many days looking for the Glossy Blacks, which were never overly abundant even before the fires and only on the last day I got a few photos, one which made it onto your t-shirts.
What are some of the best bird spotting places to visit around Australia?
There are so many! One of my favourites is Kimberley with all the amazingly coloured little finches and spectacular scenery. I like it quite remote, so my journey up the Cape York Peninsula comes in second.
Some of the birds you photograph appear unreal, their beautiful colours seem like they have been dreamed up in a fairytale. What is your favourite bird species to photograph and who has the best personality?
Believe it or not, but this one is easy for me. Gang Gang Cockatoos. They’re the most beautiful and gentle little cockatoos. I have had many great encounters with them over the years. Often they get so involved with feeding that they let you within a meter of them! This kind of trust combined with their unique look has always made them standout for me.
Is there a bird you have always wanted to photograph but you are yet to capture?
Parrots are by far my favourite and there are two that I still really want (need) to get. The super elusive Princess Parrot from the remote desert areas and the Palm Cockatoo from the far northern end of the Cape York Peninsula.
Tell us what goes into achieving one of your amazing photographs?
Hours and hours of research and being in the field, sometimes without any results. This can be very frustrating at times, but when that special moment arrives and you actually get the shots you always dreamed of, there’s no better feeling and it makes it all worth it.
You have just released a new video series teaching people about how to achieve stunning bird pictures. Tell us why and how this series came about and what people can expect from these educational videos?
Over the past few years I have realised that I have a great passion for sharing my knowledge and experiences with others. So I created a Youtube channel where I share a lot of important basics of bird photography and vlogs from my road trips and other experiences. I also created a video series and ebooks that I sell on my website, that go into great detail about what I do and how other people can learn how to take fantastic bird images around them. Often you don’t even have to travel far, with a bit of creativity, you can take great bird photos even in a tiny backyard! Some of my most popular images were taken in a plain old suburban backyard!
Youtube: Jan Wegener