Wildlife mo­ments

Wymondham photographer and film­maker’s amaz­ing work

EDP Norfolk - - Inside - writes ROWAN MANTELL

JOSH JAG­GARD started out tak­ing pic­tures of in­sects in his Nor­folk back gar­den, moved on to snap­ping lizards on a fam­ily hol­i­day and now works full time as a wildlife photographer and film-maker.

Just 26 years old, his work has al­ready been shown in art gal­leries and on tele­vi­sion – and im­pressed David At­ten­bor­ough.

Josh, who grew up in Hing­ham and lives near Wymondham, spends much of his time film­ing and pho­tograph­ing ot­ters, mainly in Nor­folk and Shet­land and has even in­vented a spe­cial raft to help him get the best shots of the elu­sive crea­tures.

“Ot­ters are a real pas­sion/ad­dic­tion of mine,” said Josh. “I have al­ways liked wildlife but my pas­sion for it only re­ally came out dur­ing the last year of school at Wymondham Col­lege. Sport used to take over my life but then wildlife took over.”

Josh was still at univer­sity, study­ing ma­rine and nat­u­ral his­tory photography at Univer­sity Col­lege Fal­mouth when he be­gan get­ting com­mis­sions for his pic­tures.

He now sells pho­to­graphs to mag­a­zines and pa­pers, plus cards and framed prints and this year had two ex­hi­bi­tions at the Nor­folk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes vis­i­tor cen­tre, with more to come in 2018.

And, for four months ev­ery spring and sum­mer, he lives in Shet­land, pho­tograph­ing and film­ing his beloved ot­ters, and work­ing as a photography guide, tak­ing peo­ple out to find and take pic­tures of wildlife in­clud­ing ot­ters, puffins, gan­nets and even whales.

For the rest of the year he is based just out­side Wymondham, and de­spite the wild grandeur of Shet­land, Josh said his own back gar­den is still one of his favourite places for photography.

His films have ap­peared on na­tional tele­vi­sion, be­gin­ning four years ago when his footage of ot­ters on the river at Thet­ford was broad­cast as part of the BBC’s Spring­watch pro­gramme. “I was lucky enough to spend three months with the pair of ot­ters in the town be­fore any­one else knew about

it,” said Josh, who has also filmed eels in Nor­folk’s River Glaven for the Rivers Trust.

Some­times a sin­gle shot might take weeks of plan­ning, track­ing and wait­ing.

The float­ing hide he be­gan de­vel­op­ing dur­ing his de­gree al­lows him to lie just cen­time­tres above the wa­ter, in lakes, rivers, es­tu­ar­ies and the sea, cam­ou­flaged by net­ting. “I cus­tom-built it to take some of my weight and my cam­era, so when I’m ly­ing on it, it’s level. I’m in a wet­suit with my lower body and legs in the wa­ter, al­low­ing me to swim it around and to­wards my sub­jects.”

With its help he has cap­tured breath­tak­ing shots of birds and an­i­mals in­clud­ing ot­ters, grebes, egrets, waders, and deer. “I love to shoot at eye level with my sub­ject and the hide al­lows me to get much closer then nor­mal. I’ve had king­fish­ers within touch­ing dis­tance.”

It also helped him win the ad­mi­ra­tion of tele­vi­sion wildlife su­per­star Sir David At­ten­bor­ough.

When Sir David was in Cley to open the Si­mon Aspinall Wildlife Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­tre, a film Josh made for the Nor­folk Wildlife Trust was show­ing, fea­tur­ing some of Nor­folk’s rarest an­i­mals and how the trust helps them. “Due to his tight sched­ule he was only meant to watch a cou­ple of min­utes but af­ter he started watch­ing he asked to see the whole film and turn the vol­ume up,” said Josh. “It was a dream to meet him and in­cred­i­ble that he watched one of my films and gave me great com­ments on my film­ing skill. It doesn’t get much bet­ter then that!”

Josh thinks of him­self as a nat­u­ral­ist who uses photography and film and hopes his pic­tures will inspire other peo­ple to take a closer look at the wildlife around them. “A lot of it we are los­ing, and the more peo­ple that take an in­ter­est and help the bet­ter,” he said.Š

Wildlife photographer Josh Jag­gard

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