Wildlife Photographer Showcase: Matt Hazleton

Wildlife Photographer Showcase: Matt Hazleton

Common Blue Butterfly c. Matthew Hazleton

One of the past winners of our Photography Competition, Matt Hazleton, tells us how he got started

I’ve always enjoyed being outside in nature, discovering things about the natural world and wildlife photography allows me to do both. I can’t think of anything better than spending a day photographing wildlife completely immersed in the natural world and it would be how I would spend every day if I could. I first started taking photos whilst at university in North Wales and have now been doing so for over ten years. I started off with quite a broad interest in photography but quickly started concentrating solely on wildlife.

I take photos of all sorts of wildlife, with my subjects changing as the year progresses. Recently, at the start of the year, I have been trying to capture photos of waterbirds, including ducks locally and wading birds further afield. Into spring my focus shifts to breeding and migrant birds which always look their best in the spring. As spring progresses into summer, butterflies and orchids are my main focus and photographing the common butterfly species is always a highlight of my year with quite a few of my butterfly photos having been part of the calendars in the last four years including one in the 2021 calendar. In autumn I start thinking about wading birds again and although I photograph different species throughout the year wading birds are my favourite and they have been a significant part of my photography right from the start.

I travel all around the UK taking photos and some of the places I first started taking photos are still some of my favourites, especially on Anglesey. My regular locations these days however, are in Northants, and there aren’t many weeks when I don’t visit Summer Leys and all but one of the photos I have contributed to the calendars over the last four years have come from there. I love taking photos of waders so anywhere where I can take photographs of waders will be a favourite. When I get the chance I spend a lot of time in Norfolk and I’ve also had a few trips to Scotland so far exploring the Outer Hebrides and the Cairngorms. I’ve only scratched the surface in Scotland though and hope to go back there soon.

I’ve always joked that if I’m not muddy/sandy/wet when I get back from a day taking photos then I haven’t had a good day and, until recently when I bought a proper pair of full chest waders, I would often end up completely drenched and very muddy/sandy after a day out, especially after a day on the beach in Norfolk. Days like that are my favourite though – it is most often on these days that I have captured some of my favourite photos. Part of the reason for crawling around on beaches or through mud is to capture photos at the eye-level of birds. This is probably my favourite way to take photos for two reasons: The first is that it helps to give photos a more intimate feel; and second is that whilst taking photos it really gives the feeling of being part of the bird’s world.

I try to get out taking photos as often as I can and I’ve taken thousands of photos over the past ten years. However, I think one of the best things about wildlife photography is that there is always something new to do, whether it is exploring a new location, finding a new subject or photographing an old subject in a different way, no two days are ever the same.

You can explore more of Matt's photographs on Flickr, Twitter (@matthazphoto) and Instagram (_matthazphoto).

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Photography Competition 2021

Our competition is now open for entries on the theme 'celebrate the seasons'. Enter your photographs of wildlife or wild places taken in Beds, Cambs or Northants for a chance to win prizes generously donated by Opticron and Campkins Cameras.

Find out more

Brown hare in snowfall by Kevin Pigney
3rd Prize - Photography Competition 2020