How to conserve the Good, the Bad and the Ugly? by Irene Mendez Cruz

I absolutely loved researching and writing my dissertation on WWF's campaigns. My topic of research, "How to conserve the Good, the Bad and the Ugly", focused on challenging human's perceptions of certain species and animal stigmatisation through powerful visual narratives. 

If you are interested, you can access my dissertation on:

Dissertation Irene Mendez Cruz - How to conserve the good the bag and the ugly

Save Our Bees by Irene Mendez Cruz

All pollinating insects are crucial to the global ecosystem. One in particular gets a great amount of attention from the media, because of its apparent sudden decline: the Apis Mellifera Mellifera. Without the honey bee, at least 250 000 species of flowering plants wouldn’t flourish, many of whom are crucial the agricultural world for the production of daily consumed goods such as apples, blueberries, almonds, onions, broccoli. The reasons for this decline are not well defined and very varied: from climate change to pesticides, monoculture practices, habitat loss and diseases spread by parasites. 

What makes the honey bee such a fascinating species is that it is a eusocial animal with outstanding communication abilities and division of work, which is why they have greatly inspired men throughout history. They are also “artisans” who produce a final manufactured product, the mystic and delicious golden honey, which generates thousands of products of great use to mankind. On a more symbolical and philosophical point of view, honey bees are equally fascinating. Since the beginnings of civilisation they have inspired scientists, philosophers, poets and religious representatives for they are ‘political insects’. As the proverbs says “Una apei, nulla apei” which means “one bee is no bee”, they can only survive as a group. Their whole life is dedicated to the survival of the colony and the production of honey, which men have “stolen” for centuries. Men love them, fear them and rob them at the same time, which makes them a strong emblem of man’s relationship with nature. They are also a symbol of selflessness and of relentless hard work for the common good. 

I achieved this body of work through different photographic and postproduction techniques. The result is the product of a combination between microscopy, macro-photography, stacking and creative experimentation through Photoshop.

The series was created like a campaign which aim is to raise awareness on the importance and challenges of honey bee conservation as a flagship species for pollinators in general.

An afternoon with Heather Angel by Irene Mendez Cruz

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    Heather Angel, freelance natural history photographer and founder of the Stock Image Library, Natural Visions

Heather Angel, freelance natural history photographer and founder of the Stock Image Library, Natural Visions

Legendary wildlife photographer, Heather Angel, at the age of 75 is a force of nature, exuding enthusiasm, passion and creativity towards photography. After almost 50 years in the industry, she is at the top of her versatile career and still juggles between being a prolific published writer, and a successful manager of both her own stock image library and photography workshop company. On top of that she is also an inspiring lecturer often sought by Universities, Photographic Clubs and Horticultural Societies across Britain and China, to share her knowledge and unique perspective of the natural world. I was lucky enough to meet her during one of her talks, down in Cornwall and spend an afternoon picking her brains, in her hometown of Farnham, where she shed light on the keys to her success.

Originally from a background of marine biology, Heather had no photographic training and learnt it by trial and error: “Of course you don’t suddenly become a freelance photographer. What changed my life overnight was when Martin, my husband, suggested that I should write a book”. She told him: “Well I’m not going to write one if nobody is going to publish it, that’s a complete waste of time”. And Martin replied “Well, they won’t publish it if you don’t write it”.  So she wrote a synopsis and never looked back. Fountain Press had faith in her and published in 1972 “Nature Photography: Its art and Techniques”. According to Heather, timing was crucial: “I did it absolutely at the right time. Believe it or not there was nothing in Britain on how to photograph wildlife. Suddenly, I was being asked by Amateur Photography and the British Journal Photographer to write for them”.

 “Pollination Power”, her latest publication, is now her 60th book and it aims at studying the relationship between plants and their natural pollinators, as well as their incredible variety, from bees to beetles, flies, moths, geckos, birds and even bats. “I’ve always had this fascination of the way in which plants and animals interact. I just felt that it would be so much fun to do and I’ve learned so much about a wide range of pollinators and how they’re not just bees.”

Contrary to what one might think, Heather is not always travelling and photographing across countries. When she is not working with the Botanical Kew Gardens, most of the time she is actually working from home either in her studio, in her own garden, or in her local churchyard. When talking about her future projects, she mentions another pollinator book more orientated towards the scientific community or the “eager beavers” as she calls them; a possible Macro Lighting manual and even an autobiography! Her advice to young photographers wanting to enter the industry is: “It’s going to take time, especially if you want to be original and do your own stuff. Being a freelance photographer is hard work. But if you like writing then that is a big way of making it. ”

Heather’s diverse and outstanding career path can be accredited to her ability to adapt and evolve with her time, as she did in the past when she transitioned from film to digital photography, and today, with her engagement and keen attitude towards social media.

Wildlife portraits by Irene Mendez Cruz

These photographs were taken during two field trips, one to a local owl sanctuary and another to the West country wildlife photography center. These trips provided unique opportunities to get up close to native mammals and a variety of owl species from around the world. I was also able to experiment different techniques such as portraiture, panning, macro photography and macro flash.

Ural Owl portrait (Strix uralensis). 2015. Digital. Nikon D810: 105mm - 1/400 - f/7,1 - ISO 100 

Jumping Red fox. (Vulpes vulpes) 2015. Digital. Nikon D810: 140mm - 1/100 - f/6,3 - ISO 100 

Harvest mice. (Micromys minutus) 2015. Digital.  Nikon D810: 105mm - 1/160 - f/4 - ISO 200