From abstracts of delicate flora to animals in majestic landscapes set against dramatic skies, Canon Ambassador Radomir Jakubowski has travelled the length and breadth of Europe capturing nature at its finest.
With his work appearing across a broad range of international specialist magazines, calendars, books and exhibitions, winning over 100 awards, and inspiring legions of would-be photographers, the outlook is bright for German nature photographer Radomir. However, bright isn't how he likes it. "There is nothing more boring than blue sky," he says. "I love storms, I love the rain, I love light that changes before your very eyes. These situations offer unique moments that most people don't get to experience, because nobody likes to be outside when the weather is bad. It's always been important to me to be as close to nature as possible and to enjoy every moment. Every moment that I spend in nature is a moment worth living."
Street photography was Radomir's first genre of choice, which led to portraits, but his focus eventually shifted and settled on nature. He was so enamoured by his new subject he decided to upgrade to his first DSLR – a Canon EOS 10D [Succeeded by the Canon EOS 80D]. "One day my godmother showed me where I could find rare plant species near where we lived and that was when my photography took a huge leap forward. I felt unstoppable."
At 18, the self-taught shooter became one of the youngest members of Germany's association of nature photographers (GDT), and eagerly soaked up the teachings of his peers, although he still viewed photography very much as a hobby. In fact, Radomir refused to contemplate a future as a professional photographer until he was approached to create a book of his work while studying at university.
Editorial commissions followed, along with a flurry of nature photography awards, including winning the Fritz Pölking Junior Prize. He has been recognised as the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year four times, and has been commended by the Windland Smith Rice International Award, Nature's Best four times. When his graduation rolled around, Radomir was in no doubt where his life was heading, and has never looked back.
As he was once guided by his peers at the GDT, in turn Radomir has taken up teaching, running nature photography workshops across Europe: "It gives me great pleasure to meet people with whom I can share my passion, because everyone brings their own unique perspective."
From a flower unfurling its delicate petals towards the rising sun, to an imposingly stoic mountain range clad in blankets of snow and ice, Radomir's subjects vary wildly, yet he says his shooting methodology remains the same regardless of what's in front of his lens. "It's all about how I use natural light," he says. "In nature photography I feel the mood, I feel the light and I try to feel what's special in that moment, and when I'm lucky I can translate all of that feeling into an image.
"Wildlife satisfies the hunting instinct in me, photographing plants allows me to be extremely creative, landscapes push me to challenge myself in post, and I love creating artistic abstracts as they are the images I really like to print. Every area of nature photography still brings me so much pleasure, every part, and I think it always will."
You've won over 100 nature awards, and had countless images published. How do you make your images stand out against the rest?
"I'm always looking for the perfect light and the right composition in my head, and I'm good at pre-visualising what I want. Often I have images in my head for years, and they stay there until I can make them a reality. But when I see a scene or something special, I know immediately how I want to photograph it."
What factors influence your choice of lens?
"The decision to use a wide angle or telephoto is fairly easy. It's the decision to compress or to stretch the dimensions. When I'm shooting animals I like the long Canon super-tele lenses and also use them for my plant photography, whereas the wide angles and zooms are more for landscapes and abstracts."
You started shooting at such a young age. What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
"Try to put yourself in the position of others and understand why they are acting like this."
What can professional photographers new to the business often overlook?
"A deep and honest love for nature. Environmental conservation is more important than earning money from nature photography. Question your actions and don't advertise the location of rare species. Consider whether a habitat could cope with the stampede of people – those who are primarily interested in sharing things on social media."
"Knowledge about your subjects is a critical success factor. In order to be successful you need to learn as much about your subjects as you can. Don't try to copy the thousands of images you see on social media. Try to explore the world by yourself and create your own images. Ultimately, the best piece of advice I can give is to feel the light and feel free."