Six years ago today I started On The Wing. In some ways it feels even longer than that, especially when I rummaged through the archive and found my first ever blog post – I was still in school! I had my whole BA ahead of me and little did I know I’d then go onto an MA and move to Scotland.
Here’s the first post from 16th March 2015:
My name’s Rebecca Gibson. I’m currently in my last year of school, hoping to get myself a clutch of A levels so I can go off to university. I’ve accepted Cumbria and plan to study Wildlife Media there. The dream is to be a wildlife photojournalist. Up until this point I’ve mainly worked with still image, but I would love to be a part of a nature documentary one day. I’d also love to contribute images for a magazine like BBC Wildlife and accompany them with written text, hence the journalism side.
I wanted to start a blog for several reasons. The internet is such a fantastic way of showcasing work, especially for a photographer. In seconds we can share our best images with millions of people across the globe. I also wanted to create a public domain so I could express my thoughts on wildlife conservation. For me, photography is a key medium in communicating wildlife issues; it enables the viewer to see exactly what is going on in the world. I think this is a much more effective way of encouraging action when we can see real-life events through the camera lens, instead of written words. The saying really is true: a picture speaks a thousand words.
On this blog I will share images that I take and record any wildlife adventures that I embark on. I will also give my opinion on articles published in BBC Wildlife magazine, which I am subscribed to. I’d love to connect with other keen naturalists and wildlife photographers, both amateur and professional. The best way to evolve your craft is to learn from others. I hope one day to inspire other new photographers.
I want to document my experiences in a journal format and look back on what I achieve in years to come. I’d love to see my work evolve and improve as I learn, not only from my degree but also from the world around me.
I’ll sign off for now, but I can’t wait to get this blog up and running!
Some of the first photos on the blog!
It’s a little cringy to read now – I certainly wouldn’t use “hence” or “embark on” in a blog post anymore, or refer to A Levels as “a clutch”. Although, it’s very satisfying to read that I dreamt of having my work featured in BBC Wildlife magazine, seeing as I now contribute to both the magazine and website!
I’d forgotten just how much my interests have shifted in six years. In my last year of school my main focus was photography. That passion for taking pictures hasn’t left me, but now I would predominantly consider myself a writer who also takes photos to support the articles. Also, photojournalism is the last thing I want to do now! It was during the BA that I grew more towards writing, which is strange because I was one of only two writers amongst a large group of photographers and filmmakers.
My undergraduate degree steered me towards writing, and my postgraduate degree (in Travel and Nature Writing) has helped me narrow my skillset into areas I didn’t anticipate. While most students on the MA are interested in the genre of nature writing that includes Robert Macfarlane, Patrick Barkham and Helen MacDonald, I’m finding myself drawn to a strange combination of fantasy fiction and factual, almost textbook, writing.
Being commissioned to write for Blue Sky Wildlife was a real turning point. As someone whose main focus has been British wildlife for about a decade, I realised I knew next to nothing about the wildlife of Canada, Australia, South America… The list was endless. Writing for Blue Sky gives me the opportunity to discover amazing things about species I’ve never seen. For example, did you know that at the base of a koala’s spine is an area of strong cartilage that acts like a cushion for when sitting on tough branches? Or that brown bears prepare for hibernation by eating as many as 20,000 calories – equivalent to about 30 kilos of apples – in a single day? I certainly didn’t, and I also didn’t know just how much I’d enjoy factual writing until Blue Sky.
Then at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I’m also drawn to fiction. Philip Pullman and Stephen King in particular have provided a huge amount of inspiration. However, I soon discovered that sharing a fiction idea with anyone before you’ve written it is a sure fire way to sabotage the idea and dry up all creative thought. Now I keep all my fiction close to my chest, but I love having those flickerings of ideas that are so different from my writing commissions.
I enjoyed looking back on that somewhat cringy first post because it’s a reminder of how much has happened since I started the blog. I’m sure a whole lot more will happen in the next six years too, and I can’t wait to see how my writing and photography continue to develop.