No sooner had the new year kicked-off that I found myself with a project to shoot a large shipyard in South Korea. After a bit of research I decided to combine this with a detour to Nagano in Japan, home to the wild Macaque snow monkeys who had fascinated me for years on BBC wildlife documentaries.
The majority of my photographs are represented by Lonely Planet Images and there was a definite gap in their collection when it came to this subject, one which I decided to plug. So with perfect wintry conditions forecast, I headed for Nagano to spend a day shooting these fascinating creatures.
The weather was perfect the day I chose to go. Overcast and even light, snow showers and pretty fresh temperatures of -20c which meant the Macaques would be more than happy to warm up in the hot springs. I’d seen this very place on a BBC documentary narrated of course by David Attenborough, and after walking through a kind of snowy wilderness for an hour, I arrived at the exact spot; a small, steaming and quite surreal rock pool full of the most relaxed monkeys I’ve ever seen.
The story goes that these Macaques who bathe in the springs are from an elite blood line and only they alone are allowed in the springs. If those from other families do try to take a quick dip, they’re violently chased away by a loud and large alpha male. And then it’s back to the serious business of grooming each other between bouts of sleep. They made stunning subjects to photograph and I was happy with the shots I got; also amazed at how close I could get a camera to them without the monkeys even flinching.
Fast forward a couple of months and these shots had been uploaded onto the Lonely Planet Images site and were available for licensing; in fact, I enjoyed an almost monopoly position on Lonely Planet when it came to Macaque Snow Monkeys. Things can change pretty quickly though, and last month came the news that Lonely Planet have sold their entire collection to Getty Images, with whom I’ve since signed a contract to represent my photography moving forward.
So my collection of monkeys (along with the landmarks, people, skylines and landscapes) will soon be heading off to an altogether bigger rock pool at Getty Images, competing against a much larger collection of photographs and photographers, but presumably enjoying a greater audience.
Whether this means a greater potential for sales, only time will tell really. From my experience so far, it’s difficult to imagine stock photography ever providing a huge part of my income, but it is nevertheless an important aspect of it. Every sale and every published image contributes to increased income and published work, hopefully increasing creditability with potential clients. So I’m looking forward to my images being part of Getty’s collection and I’d also like to say thanks to those at Lonely Planet Images, who I’ve really enjoyed working with over the last few years.
You can see a full gallery of these images HERE
Licence images of Macaque Snow Monkeys from Getty Images
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