Our second interviewee ”Flyway: connecting people and migratory waterbirds” story series is Ms. Georgina Steytler from Australia, Grand Prix Winner of 2019 EAAFP Waterbirds Photo Contest, to share with us her success story.
EAAFP: Ms. Georgina Steytler, Please introduce yourself.
Georgina: My name is Georgina Steytler. I am a conservationist and part-time photographer from Australia.
EAAFP: What was your motivation to participate in the 2019 EAAFP Waterbirds Photo Contest?
Georgina: A friend forwarded the information of the contest to me. I am always keen to support bird conservation and I believe photo contests are important to raise awareness as well as get good images to use for conservation projects. I even promoted the contest myself in my newsletter to subscribers encouraging them to enter too. I hope some of them did.
EAAFP: When and how did you become interested in bird watching?
Georgina: About ten years ago we sponsored our Peruvian nature guide in the Amazon to come and visit us in Australia. He stayed with us and my parents and friends for almost 12 months. He especially loved birds and I was so embarrassed that I knew so little about Australian birds. I signed us up to do some bird walks with the local office of BirdLife Australia. After that I volunteered with the BirdLife Western Australia Community Education Committee. My job was to prepare slideshow presentations on the local birds. We gave these talks to school, nursing homes and other community groups. It was during this time that I developed a deep love for birds and a passion to help conserve them.
EAAFP: Please tell us more about your photo, “Waving Goodbye”, which won the Grand Prix for the 2019 EAAFP Waterbirds Photo Contest.
Georgina: I love to photograph waders but I am also extremely conscious of the need not to disturb them, especially migratory waders that have flown many thousands of kilometres. On the occasion of this photo, I saw the waders feeding along the shoreline. I then walked up about 50 metres and lay on the sand in the direction in which they were feeding. I took photos as they moved closer so that by the time they were close, they were already used to my camera clicking and me (as I was not camouflaged) and realised that I was not a threat. At one stage they came so close that I could no longer focus on them with my long lens. I shoot in burst mode as I like to capture unique moments and poses like this one, which is when the godwit had a scratch. Because I was low on the ground, the background and foreground were pleasingly blurred. I waited until they had moved further on before I got up, so that at no stage did I cause them to take flight. It is such a privilege to be so close to these incredible birds.
I am particularly fond of the Bar-tailed Godwit as I knew from my work educating about birds that it has the furthest recorded non-stop flight – 11,000kms in 8 days – that’s INCREDIBLE! I chose this image as it represented both an interesting pose as well as the fact by looking like it is waving, it perfectly represented the fact that these birds are in critical decline and unless more is done we will lose them, not just for a breeding season, but forever.
EAAFP: Please tell us about some of your other photos relating to nature or wildlife.
Georgina: In my images I like to capture the personality of an animal or tell a story, such as by including its habitat. I also love to capture action and a bird in flight is almost irresistible to me! I am also very passionate about ethics – the interests of the animal must always come before the photo. My motto is: “Art. Conservation. Ethics.” You can see more of my images at: www.georginasteytler.com.au or on Instagram: @georgina_Steytler
EAAFP: Do you have any advice or comments to the future EAAFP Photo Contest participants?
Georgina: Regarding the competition, make sure you ENTER! Images can have a huge impact, especially in this age where social media dominates, so it’s important that all bird photographers support this competition and enter their best photos. As to advice regarding how to take images, getting to eye level is always a great way to get a more engaging photo so you need to be prepared to get dirty! Set your shooting mode to ‘burst’ and fire away. You never know what you are going get.
EAAFP: Is there anything you would like to say to the organizer of EAAFP Photo Contest?
Georgina: Thank you for organizing this competition and giving me the opportunity to enter and help promote the cause. If there is anything further I can do to assist, please don’t hesitate to let me know. In particular, I am happy to help promote the competition when it opens again via my social media outlets and encourage more to enter.