Carl Bovis is a bird lover and nature photographer from Westonzoyland. He was born in Kent and brought up on on his grandad’s fruit farm near Tunbridge Wells. He taught him about the birds on the farm from an early age and once he received a pair of binoculars for Christmas, when he was five or six years old, a lifelong passion for birds was ignited.
Carl told us,
“The advent of digital photography was a godsend to me, for I was now able get pictures of the birds I saw, instead of just admiring them through my binoculars!”
“In 2006 I started sharing my nature pictures on photo websites such as Flickr and Fotothing, and the feedback was very positive which encouraged me to keep improving. As cameras and lenses improved, my bird photography did also. I’d always had good compositional skills and the ability to see a decent photo opportunity, but needed a lens that could get me closer to the birds without disturbing them. My current set up of a Nikon D500 DSLR camera and a Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary lens are perfect for the kind of pictures I like to take.”
He then went on to tell us,
“In 2009, social media started to really take off, and I started my own Page on Facebook of my nature photography, which now has over 18,000 likes. Amazing when I was originally hoping 30 people would like it!
“Two or three years later I opened my Twitter nature account, and my wonderful followers there encouraged me to start selling my work, something I’d never contemplated before. In 2018 I produced my first ever bird calendar for the following year, and originally ordered 10 calendars from the printers. In the end I sold 150 calendars before Christmas!
“This surprising success gave me the confidence to produce more products of my work. In 2019, I had my own postcards, greeting cards, T-shirts, fridge magnets, canvases, mugs and mounted prints, plus a new calendar for 2020, which sold 450 copies!
“However, it had always been a dream of mine to have my own book, and when one of my Twitter followers said they would buy a book of mine, I put it to the vote. The response was overwhelming…. yes, produce a book!”
Talking more about his book, he continued,
“I found a publisher, however I had to pay up front for any books produced, which I couldn’t afford to do. Again I asked my Twitter followers what to do and a few suggested crowd-funding.
“So I set up a ‘GoFundMe’ for my book, originally asking for £1000 towards the printing and publishing costs. Amazingly I reached that figure within 30 hours!
“I eventually raised well over £4000, before turning off donations as I had all I needed at that stage to produce the original amount of books I wanted.
“I had the idea early on of calling the book ‘100 Birds’. The concept was a simple one. 100 photos of birds, with 100 accompanying pages of text and stories relating to the pictures. It took me a couple of weeks to whittle my hundreds of thousands of bird photos down to just 100 for the book, and a further 6 months to write the text, which I did around my full time job of a traffic management surveyor.
“I wanted my book to be more than just a mere picture book, I wanted it to have a bit more substance than that, the kind of bird book I myself would love to read! Some well known people who are among the 33,000 people who follow me on Twitter kindly gave me quotes for the book, including singer Tanita Tikaram and naturalist Brigit Strawbridge Howard. Political commentator Isabel Hardman wrote a lovely Foreword for me.
“In December, my book was finally published, and I was delighted with it! To actually hold it in my hands, after all the hard work, meant my dream of my own book was now a reality.
“In 2 months I’ve sold over 430 copies of the book, which is incredible considering the only places you can buy it at the moment are from my website and from Jane Armour Trading gift shop in Taunton. The feedback has been very positive, people who have bought the book love it, and some have returned for more copies to gift family and friends.”
If you want to find out more about Carl, his photography and his book, you can check out his website where you can read reviews www.carlbovis.com you can also purchase his book on his website www.carlbovis.com/100-birds-book.
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