I am a journalist by profession, a conservationist by inclination, and a nature photographer almost by accident. In conservation my activities in the 'home base' of Surrey have included being voluntary warden of a small reserve near Leatherhead and carrying out Wetland Bird Survey counts each winter in the 1990s and early this century. There has also been committee work for Surrey Wildlife Trust www.surreywildlifetrust.org, Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign www.gacc.org.uk, the Leatherhead & District Countryside Protection Society, Mole Valley District Council's nature conservation group, and a team focusing on the protection of the River Mole. I am also Chairman of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society (BWARS) and a trustee of the charity Hymettus Ltd www.hymettus.org.uk, which funds extensive research into British invertebrates, chiefly bees, wasps and ants, and disseminates the information gathered.
My first book Hidden Jewels - the Wildlife of Leatherhead and Fetcham, published in 1997, has sold more than 1,000 copies with proceeds going to environmental charities. The second, My Side of the Fence - the Natural History of a Surrey Garden, was published in 2013. Four hundred copies have been sold, with donations given to Surrey Wildlife Trust. Details may be found, and orders made, via this hyperlink My Side of the Fence. November 2015 saw the publication of the Surrey Wildlife Trust atlas Soldierflies, their allies and Conopidae of Surrey, written by David Baldock and myself. Details are on this hyperlink Atlas. All three books, together with this website, were designed with typical panache by Neil Randon, the latter now with a skilfully-applied update by Louise Fox www.louisefox.co.uk to be HTML5 compliant and mobile device-friendly.
Britain's cultural heritage receives abundant publicity in its own right and as a boost to tourism, and is viewed as immensely valuable on both counts. This is entirely appropriate given the quality and range of our art, architecture and literature. In stark contrast, our natural heritage does not always receive due attention or any proper estimation of its value other than in such flagship areas as National Parks and National Nature Reserves, and sometimes not even there.
The natural world and its flora and fauna matter to everyone aesthetically, thanks to their beauty, colour and variety. There is no stronger contributor to the feel-good factor, though this is not always realised by those who benefit. Flora and fauna also matter practically, through their importance in, to give a few examples, creating a healthy balance between species, guaranteeing soil fertility, recycling efficiently and pollinating crops as well as making us aware of our own limitations.
Protection is of the essence, and striking visual evidence of natural beauty, along with the damage humans can do to it, as seen on this page, is a highly effective tool for conservation. Putting images with words provides the most powerful tool of all. The result of this mindset is that I rarely see taking photos as just fun, and never see them as an end in themselves.
That's not to say using a camera is devoid of the stimulation and mental plus physical exertion regularly associated with enjoyment - far from it. But taking photos remains principally a means to the end of furthering the conservation message. I take images to try and serve this purpose, images which conservation bodies, notably Surrey Wildlife Trust, may be able to use, images which, as a bonus, my agency, the Frank Lane Picture Agency in Suffolk www.flpa-images.co.uk, may be able to sell to help recoup some of the cost.
Any inquiries - please e-mail me at Nature Conservation Imaging.
Images © Jeremy Early. All rights reserved.