About the Art: Paula Cooper

We spoke to Paula Cooper as part of our blog series and found out why she got up close and personal with a snail for her award-winning shot.

Can you tell us the story behind your photo?

‘Web of Life’ was taken on a very foggy autumn morning. Originally I was after tree shots in Thetford forest but the fog was so dense you couldn’t see the trees. Luckily after looking a bit closer up, I found this little snail.

How did you go about getting that shot?

I didn’t have a tripod with me so had to shoot handheld and also had to wait for the fogging on the lens to clear. I had to angle it so that snail was looking up to the cobweb which was covered in water droplets.

How long did you have to wait for this shot?

I only had to wait a few minutes watching the snail move around the plant stem and managed to get the one image of it in the perfect position. I did have a few with a little woodlouse in there too but unfortunately, it wasn’t so keen on posing.

Did you use any particular equipment or software?

I shot this using my Panasonic Lumix G7 with a 14-140mm lens at 140mm. I edited it in Lightroom and Silver Effex.

What are your favourite scenes, species, or motivations behind your photographs?

I do most of my photography in Thetford Forest or the surrounding Breckland area when out walking my dogs. I also enjoy getting up to the North Norfolk coast or into Suffolk. I just love the peace and quiet of being out on my own so tend to pick the quieter areas to avoid distractions. One of my favourite things is to photograph the herds of ponies in the Wildlife Trust reserves.

What are the difficulties of wildlife and nature photography that you face?

My main difficulty is the fact that all the wildlife disappears if I have my dogs with me. I tend to do more nature than wildlife unless it is things like snails and butterflies that are not bothered by the dogs.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I like to bring out the personalities of the animals I photograph to bring something more to the images. I also do a lot of creative photography using intentional camera movement and in-camera multiple exposures. These images make the viewer think more about the subject than a straightforward one.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?

I bought my first camera (converted to infrared) about 8 years ago but didn’t really do much with it for another few years. I finally bought another camera to do colour with about four years ago and have been playing around with different types of photography since then.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife or nature in their local environment?

I would advise getting a camera that you are going to find easy to carry with you, such as the mirrorless that I use. It is no good having a very expensive camera that is too heavy to carry very far. Also to stop and take in what is around you, you might not see an image straight away but keep looking.

What projects are you working on now or have coming up?

Currently, I am adding to a project I started last winter, with all the images taken with the same viewpoint at Lynford Lake but using intentional camera movement to create very different looking images. I will also be doing some indoor photography in the colder weather using decomposing leaves as the subject matter.