Captivelight Photography began life in October 1997 when I began freelance work as well as working for “Law Enforcement” as a photographer and editing/enhancing photos and video stills for the previous decade or so. By 2000 Captivelight was my main source of income and with an insatiable market for photos from the magazine publishing industry things looked pretty good…
Right up to the day them new-fangled digital camera things came along (they’ll never catch on!) The magazine market began to dry up and prices paid for images started to fall like a lead balloon until by 2005 the writing was on the wall and it was time to find a new revenue stream.
Captivelight Photo Days began life in March 2006 with the aim of providing photographers with subjects to photograph which they may not be able to have access to otherwise. At first we offered Birds Of Prey Photo Days at what was then Liberty’s Raptor And Reptile Centre just outside Ringwood on the edge of the New Forest or Studio Model days at Pelhams Park in Bournemouth.
During our first photo day at Liberty’s the photographers were allowed access into the enclosures of selected birds to photograph them without the wire in the way, or the birds were brought out with a falconer holding them for people to photograph. The most remarkable thing about this day was that the very young lady who was our falconer for the day managed to hold up a very large Bald Eagle for at least 15 minutes before anyone noticed that she was starting to hyper-ventilate and propped a tripod under her wrist.
In 2007 we ran our first “Raptors In The Forest” Photo Days … where we take a selection of our birds out into the New Forest and photograph them in their natural surroundings. This proved to be very popular and 10 years later we are still holding these days on a regular basis. Our original “Hollow Tree” that we put the Owls in to be photographed was blown down in a spectacular storm that caught us out(but only lasted 15 minutes!) which saw Lightning hitting the trees around us, huge hail stones the size of those big marbles and a mighty wind. After we got back out of our cars we found several trees had been blown over one of which landed on our beloved hollow tree smashing it to pieces.
We were also running our Studio Model Shoots using a rapidly expanding collection of studio equipment which began with a set of Elinchrom D-Lite 4 lights bought when they were first introduced to the market. That first set of lights saw service over the next 10 years including a lot of heavy commercial usage which the poor things were never designed for. Eventually we used them as a part exchange in 2016 still in perfect working order despite never being serviced and now use the heavy-duty commercial Elinchrom ELC Pro 500 range of lights which have a lightning fast recharge time and a very quick flash duration.
Despite the popularity of the Model Studio Days we decided that we wanted to go down a different route and stopped doing them as public days. Owls proved to be more reliable with their time keeping on a Saturday morning than some of the models and to date no-one has suggested that the owl gets naked for them. We replaced the Model Studio days with Birds Of Prey Studio days.
Having so much studio equipment opened up the doors to starting Reptile Photography Workshops and after being asked for “just frogs” so often we started up our very popular “Just Frogs” workshops as well as adding Harvest Mice to the list of critters to photograph. We’ve got quite good at creating studio table top sets!
Over the last decade we have seen thousands of people come and join us for our Photodays with a very high percentage of people returning time and time again over the years. It has been our pleasure to take people from their very first baby steps in the world of photography and watch them progress over the years. Photographs taken during our workshop days have won our clients all sorts of awards from local camera club level right up to international levels as well as commercial and competition success. Most importantly we have ignited a passion for photography in so many people who will carry that passion for the rest of their lives.
We have photographers travel to us from all over the UK and beyond. The furthest we know someone has travelled for the sole purpose of photographing some of our animals, in this case UK Birds Of Prey, was a gentleman from Thailand who has been several times now. We also have people fly in from Germany, America, Italy and Spain on a regular basis to spend a day with us.
We once ran a Private Photo Day where none of the 12 people who arrived actually brought a camera (other than their phone cameras). The day was a birthday treat for a young lady and her friends. On that day we learned that if you hold a baby ferret gently between thumb and forefinger with its bottom hanging down then very softly swing it round in a very small circular motion it will fall asleep.
We once had someone turn up to a birds of prey photo day fully dressed up as a Viking warrior. Some suggested it was the new range of clothing for especially marketed for Nikon users although this was never fully verified … others swear blind that his war axe was made by Canon, most would agree that he probably uses a Sony now …
We once ran a photo day organised by Canon for some hand-picked Canon users – one of whom turned up with all Nikon gear. (Sadly not dressed as a Viking). Quite a lot of banter that day!
In June 2017 we finally built a dedicated photography room at Liberty’s Centre so we can now run our Workshops during the week as well as weekends. Our “Week-Day Workshops” have become a huge success since then with hundreds of photographers enjoying our Harvest Mice, Frogs, Water SplashArt sessions as well as Birds Of Prey Studio and Reptile Studio workshops.
Over the last 20 years we have had some amazing times, done some amazing things and met some amazing people along the way – thank you to all of you and we look forward to the future.