You are clearly somebody who has always enjoyed the relationship between photographer and model. Do you miss this when you photograph wildlife?
At my age I find it more difficult to photograph human beings - doing a portrait of somebody is a very personal thing. I did a portrait last week of a very beautiful girl for a book cover, but it was quite tense to start with. I think the only reason I was asked to do a portrait is people know I’m doing pictures again. I wouldn’t have been asked five years ago. Saying that I don’t want to be doing portraits; that’s not what I want to do.
Are you tempted to draw a comparison between the birds you photograph now and the models and rock stars you photographed in your previous career?
I’ve always got a picture in the back of my brain when I see the birds, mostly to do with the way the picture is going to be composed, that is heavily influenced by something I’ve done in the past. But the main difference is that the birds are not divas, they’re not temperamental and they’re not expensive. So they’re much less trouble and they’re actually better models; they don’t get tired or need a cup of tea or need to speak to their manager.
Do you think they remember you?
The Magpie Geese know who I am because they always start honking whenever I appear, and they don’t do that with other people. I don’t know if they’re saying "Get rid of that lunatic" or whether they’re pleased to see me.
Monty is quite friendly with you......
Oh yes, Monty is wonderful. Monty’s a Magpie Goose and I think he’s always pleased to see me. I notice now that certain birds disappear if strangers come into their area, but they don’t do that anymore if I’m there. Of course it’s not that flattering because they’re always pleased to see the people that feed them.
So you’re not tempted to manage any of them and do a deal?
I’d quite like to manage the Black Swans and do a deal for them. Yeah!