The book is equal parts studio and location work, and Linstead is the rare photographer who masters both. His lighting is always subtle and appropriate on multiple levels. His backgrounds, upon which he lavishes as much care as his subjects, are never cluttered or distracting, and always complementary. Even those constructed on his kitchen table look natural.
In his text, Linstead, who started professional life as an aerospace engineer, delivers insights into the wide variety of technical challenges he faces in producing his, ok, iconic images. In clear and engaging language, he writes of subject handling (for studio and location work), lighting, background selection, and tips for working with the infrared trip wires and other specialized equipment (including software) needed to realize his visions. (He first previsualizes almost all his images, and then devises a plan to make them real.)
He also writes about shooting for stock, about which he says, “The power of cuteness [in this industry] should never be underestimated.” While it’s great to show a raptor with captured prey, that prey (unusually dead) must be as attractive as the owl, osprey, or eagle that’s holding it. Eye contact with the corpse is a must. The most beautiful shot ever of a Snowy Owl won’t sell, if the mouse in its talons is headless.
Linstead also tackles some of the thornier issues of wildlife photography, and speaks forthrightly about the controversial subject of live baiting (ie. attracting birds of prey with live bait, usually store-bought mice), and about the often adversarial roles of conservationist and photographer.
Is there a wildlife lover —or better, a wildlife photographer—on your holiday list? “Decisive Moments” with its 64 beautifully designed pages and 50 once-in-a-lifetime photos is a $30 sure thing.
“Decisive Moments: Creating Iconic Imagery” by Scott Linstead ($30 from Bouquin Publishing) is available through:
-Or directly from the photographer: www.scottyphotography.com