How often, as a photographer, do you envy those who are standing in front of epic species such as Polar Bears, Lions and Elephants. Even in this country you probably have a personal hit list of wonderful animals such as Brown Hares, Red Squirrels and Otters that you would love to photograph.
Of course, unless you go from commercial hide to commercial hide, the chances that you will be pointing your lens at such iconic species day in, day out will be remote. If you only focus on iconic species then you may find a lot of your photography days quite frustrating.
I have a regular spot where I like to photograph Kingfishers. Actually let me rephrase that. I have a regular spot where I like to wait for hours at a time in the hope a Kingfisher may show up while telling myself that this time I WON'T take a picture of the Moorhen in the stream. I'm pretty sure the Moorhen knows this as well, as it taunts me with its cute red beak and its beady eyes glinting in the morning sun.
I pretty much fail every visit and now believe I have the largest personal collection of Moorhen pictures known to man. There's always a moment when the light seems just right or indeed I'm attempting something different with the picture. There's a market for this? Right?
I find pointing my camera at the more common species really helps me from two points of view.
First and foremost it allows me to study a species in depth which, without a camera in my hand, I would have dismissed without too much of a thought. Building an understanding of the natural world is the number one skill (much more important than aperture, shutter speed and even shock horror ... pixel size) that any photographer worth their salt should focus on and this understanding should extend to the more common species.
Secondly, when it comes to improving your photography, practice, as they say, makes perfect. While it may be a Blue Tit rather than a Buzzard, the action of actually reading the light, deciding on the settings to match your creative direction, composing the image and then choosing the decisive moment to press the shutter, is the same irrespective of species.
So next time you are out with your camera on the hunt for that iconic target, spare a thought for the more common. Better still set yourself a target of working specifically on something which most may not given a second glance. You may not only improve your photography, but surprise yourself with an impressive portfolio of images.
Now I just need to find a gallery which will show my exhibition "Moorhen Madness"