Interview with a bird photography enthusiast in Mauritius

Our guest this week is Jacques de Spéville, wildlife photographer, specialized in birds photo-shooting in nature. Their plumage, of outstanding colours have no secrets for him! Demonstrating his passion and showcasing these flying species in all their splendor are signs of his humility and authentic sharing.

How did you discover your passion for photography with specialization in capturing birds’ images?

It was in 2005, when I did a photo safari in South Africa. This experience provided me with the trigger for wildlife photography. I retired in 2010 and my hobby became my passion, having more time at my disposal at this new stage of my life.

In Mauritius and in Rodrigues, wildlife is not that rich as compared to bigger countries, but birds offer interesting potential. I started with the most common species. Then, learning about the habitat of the endemic bird species of these islands, I had the golden opportunity of meeting up with Dr. Vikash Tatayah, Director of Conservation at the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. I was offered the possibility of participating as a volunteer photographer, which allowed me to help the organization by feeding them with pictures for different needs, having access to the habitat of endemic birds. I travelled to the sister island shooting the native, migratory and exotic birds species.

What are the main qualities required to master your field of competence?

Bird photography requires a lot of patience and perseverance. One must also be passionate about nature and of course photography.

When is the right time for you to indulge into your passion and how often?

One of the most important parameters in photography is light. As a general rule, it is during the morning and afternoon that it is most favourable. The habits of birds, which are generally more active in the early morning and afternoon, should also be taken into account. The frequency varies greatly depending on the time, the opportunities, the motivation…

How do you share what you have received as a gift, because it is a gift to be able to make such beautiful prints?

I will answer to your question in two stages:

Getting to make beautiful pictures of birds is not just a matter of giving, even if it requires certain skills.

Then, it is hard work to master the different components of bird photography among which are important features:

a) Be careful to choose your camera equipment, get to know it thoroughly and learn how to make the right settings at the time of the photo.

b) Learn to edit photos using software like Photoshop or equivalent.

c) Learn to know more and above all to respect the habitat and habits of the birds you want to photograph.

d) As with sport and many other fields, you have to practice constantly to improve yourself. Many people mistakenly think that it is enough to have a ‘good camera’ to be able to make good pictures.

Are there any national or international associations that you have been associated with/with which you have affinities for your passion?

As mentioned above, I provide a lot of photos to the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation for their various publications, website …

I published a book on the birds of Mauritius and Rodrigues. The book is on sale in most bookstores and supermarkets on the island.

I collaborate actively with the African Bird Club by posting on their website ‘African Bird Club Image Database’ (Afbid), photos of all the bird’ species I have been able to photograph in Mauritius or Africa and I provide them with photos for newsletters and other publications.

I regularly receive requests (local and international) of all kinds for photos, not only for birds but also for bats or other wild animals for example. Press articles, magazines, scientific newsletters, bird books, tour guides, student thesis on a particular species, posters are some of these regular requests.

For the past few months I have been sharing many of my photos on specific Facebook pages.

Do you have an immediate future project that you would like to share with our readers? If so, which one or which ones?

No immediate plans, but I sincerely hope that the global health situation will improve and in 2021, I can fly safely back to some African countries to search for and photograph other bird species.

What is your greatest satisfaction regarding your passion?

I have been able to bring my contribution, however small it may be, to the protection of the birds species and bats, endemic to Mauritius and Rodrigues. Sharing these species to as many people as possible and interest them in discovering the multiple facets of these creatures is just fantastic… A legacy…

Our warmest thanks to our friendly guest. We thank him for his time and for the emotions shared looking at the state-of-the-art wildlife pictures! Stay tuned for future interviews.

Lza M Natur

Reasons to visit Mauritius: History … a way to encounter our people
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