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Interview with a teenage Photographer of the Year

By: Michael Hugill, Category: At The Museum, Date: 25 Nov 2011

The Natural History Museum London and BBC Wildlife Magazine have announced Wagga Wagga's Jack Salzke as the winner of this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year award, 15-17 years category.

Jack Salzke

 © Jack Salzke

Jack was experimenting with macro-photography in his garden in New South Wales, using extension tubes he’d been given for his birthday, when he spotted a honeybee entering the great white cup of a magnolia flower. Using manual settings, he took several pictures before the bee exited. The result? Lure of the Bee, an international prize-winning photo (and a beautiful experiment, he says).

How old are you?
I'm 16 years of age, turning 17 in January 2012.

How long have you been taking photos for?
I've been serious about photography for about a year, maybe a year and a half, but I've been taking photos ever since I was little. I probably first picked up a disposable camera when I was about 5, and went around Sydney taking photos of the traffic lights (don't ask me why, this is just what I've been told by my mother).

Was this your first time entering the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition?
Yes, this is the first time I've entered the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, but it most definitely won't be the last.

What made you enter?
I actually had subscribed to an e-mail list that sent out a whole bunch of different competitions, I entered a couple, and didn't realise I was entering a competition of this extent.

Can you tell me a little about the photo?
This photo was taken just after my birthday this year, I'd just received a set of Kenko extension tubes and I was just mucking around with them in the garden. There wasn't a vast number of animals to be found in my garden though, so I ended up focusing on bees. This bee happened to land in the only perfectly formed Gem Magnolia in the garden, and I was lucky enough to get the shot. I was lucky actually, because on the back of the camera it didn't look terribly amazing, I only took two photos of the bee in the flower because I didn't like it that much, it wasn't until I got the photos back on the computer that I realised what I'd captured.

Would you encourage people to visit the exhibition and why?
I'd definitely encourage people to visit the exhibition, I've seen some of the work that's going to be on display alongside mine and it's absolutely amazing. There are things that are going to be in this exhibition that some people couldn't dream of, and there are animals from all over the world. This competition stretches from Australia, UK, Switzerland, Russia, USA and so many more. There are images from everywhere.

What do you love about wildlife photography?
This question is actually rather hard for me, because lately I've been focusing mainly on portrait photography, although after coming to London and meeting all the other photographers, I think I'll start to get more into wildlife again. I just love some of the things you can capture, some of the things you witness whilst you're taking the images.

Do you have any advice for budding photographers?
Just go and do it, don't make excuses that you don't have the right lens, or that you don't have any wildlife near you. My entry was taken with a Nikon D5000, a 55-200mm kit lens, and some extension tubes in my backyard. I didn't have to go far to get the shot, you just need to look around, you'll find something.