ARTisSpectrum Vol. 31, May 2014 - page 28

ARTisSpectrum | Volume 31 |
S t u d i o S pa c e s
: j i m i r w i n
My “studio” is actually on location and usually in Africa in a very remote area. This is where I conduct my “photo-shoots.”
My studio is quite different when compared to the more traditional studio. Just getting to my “studio” is a challenge, as
the trip requires careful planning, vaccinations, permits and visas as well as many hours of travel. Add to that the need
to take daily anti-malaria medication. Further, my studio set-up is even more unusual. Sometimes I am sitting in a jeep.
Sometimes I am trekking on foot or in a canoe, helicopter or even a hot air balloon. I cannot set up studio lighting and, in
fact I cannot use a flash at all. I cannot ask my subjects to turn their heads a different direction or to hold still for another
try. I must be nearly invisible and remain patient, certainly quiet, as I wait for the exact opportunity to take the shot. I
must be ready every moment and have several cameras, each with different focal length lenses attached and ready by my
side. There usually is no time to change lenses when a subject presents itself. There is no relaxing while waiting, as I am
constantly scanning all directions. I must be ready, with camera in hand when that perfect opportunity suddenly presents
itself. One false move on my part can alert the animal to my presence and cause it to flee.
Often I have to endure rough environmental conditions. I maintain top-level equipment that will hold up to the rough en-
vironment. I sometimes put my personal safety at risk being dangerously close to wild animals. I have been in some tight
situations with lions and leopards. Even hippos and elephants can present a danger. I often find myself in an open jeep
with no sides or roof. Once I have sighted a subject, I frequently have to endure staring through the lens trying to resist
swatting the nagging face flies that often show up.
Jim Irwin
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