The Man Behind the Lens: In Conversation with David Bebber SEARCH NEWS

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We are delighted to be hosting an exhibition at The Forum, Norwich, by photographer and World Land Trust Ambassador David Bebber. We caught up with David to find out more about the man behind the lens.

 How long have you been a photographer?
I’ve been a photographer for 21 years. I started at a news agency in Bristol, then moved to London. working for Reuters and EPA, before joining The Times where I was a photographer for 10 years.

 What is your main inspiration?
When I started out, my main inspiration were ‘the greats’ of photojournalism – people like Don McCullin, Jim Nachtwey and Sebastiao Salgado… all very much documentary photographers covering quite heavy subjects. That’s what I thought was the pinnacle of photography. I’m also very interested in more artistic photography where the subject is not the main focus and it’s more about the composition.

Your exhibition focusses on WLT projects around the world. How did that come about?

© David Bebber / The Times

David Bebber visits WLT projects around the world with writer Simon Barnes, pictured here in the Paraguay Pantanal. © David Bebber / The Times

It started when I was on contract with The Times. I was dispatched all over the world, covering all kinds of breaking news events. One of them was with the writer Simon Barnes who was also at The Times at the time. We went to Paraguay to cover a story about the Chaco which WLT were raising funds for. I was then very lucky to be paired with Simon. Whenever he was doing an assignment, I was the photographer that went with him. We did stories on elephant corridors in India, then Borneo, Armenia, Vietnam…

 

What’s your favourite picture from the exhibition?
There’s a photograph of a ranger in Vietnam – it was just after a very long walk into the heart of the forest and he went for a dip in the river we were camped next to. He laid back in the water and there was something about the beautiful forest as a backdrop and this ranger in his natural environment that really struck me. The rangers made a big impression on me.

© David Bebber

David’s favourite photo from the exhibition: a ranger cooling off in the river, Vietnam. © David Bebber

What do you look for in a successful image?
It has to either give the viewer a real insight into whatever the situation is you’re covering, or it has to provoke some kind of emotional response in the viewer. After that come the compositional elements.

How do you think photography can play a positive role in conservation?
The more I worked with WLT the more passionate I got and I realised that my pictures could be used to help raise awareness of conservation issues. More and more, I began looking for pictures that triggered an emotional response in viewers and encouraged them to support WLT.

What camera equipment do you use?
The images in the exhibition were taken using Canon 5D cameras, which are relatively small and very durable and have a wide range of lenses from macro to longer focal lengths which are great for wildlife. In the last five years or so I’ve swapped over to Leica M series rangefinder cameras – I prefer the way they help me see the world.

Any tips for aspiring photojournalists?
Try to get to the heart of whatever you’re interested in. Get involved, and explore whichever theme or topic you want to work on as fully as possible.

Protecting the Future – Conservation in Action: photographs by David Bebber of World Land Trust Projects around the World can be seen at the Forum, Norwich until 30 August 2019.

 

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