Fieldsports Photographer George Gunn – For The Love Of Game
On day 10 of our “12 Days of Shooting”, and ahead of the upcoming shooting season, Benedict & Hott chats with internationally renowned lifestyle and rural photojournalist George Gunn.
Widely regarded as a leading fieldsport photographer, he is a passionate supporter of all rural, whether it be fishing in Iceland, photographing shooting parties Worldwide or creating lifestyle shoots. He is an ambassador for both the British Game Alliance & The Country Food Trust, and is recognised as a passionate wildlife supporter.
Tell us about George Gunn, how/why photography?
I have always been surrounded by farming, from an early age. As I grew up on the Angmering Park Estate in West Sussex and spent most my life outdoors. We were lucky enough to live by the sea in my teens so if I wasn’t out beating in the winter, then I’d be kite surfing in the summer. I also wanted to travel, and with this was my introduction to photographer. I realised I could see the world and do something that I love. I found the pair worked very closely together travel and making a career out of photographer and then worked brilliantly together.
A day in the life of G.G, what does it look like?
Sadly, it’s not as exciting as you’d think! I’m either spending most the day editing, whilst sat at a desk or driving for hours, to often stand in the rain! Taking the photos, is actually such a small part of the job.
You’ve been on hundreds of shoot days, what makes a “good one”?
A great atmosphere. Whether I’m shooting or photographing. If everyone is having a good day and the atmosphere is exciting, then you know it’s going to be good day. Whether you’re walking up pheasants in Norfolk or driven grouse in Scotland; if you’re with the right people, you’ll have the best time.
Best or most exciting wildlife sighting on a moor?
My most exciting was watching a peregrine falcon hunting on the moors. To see them pick their prey and dive at 200mph is pretty exciting and awe inspiring. I’ve only ever really seen these types of birds on moorlands managed for grouse keeping.
In your experience, what is the first lesson people learn on a moor?
It’s unpredictable. The weather, the shooting. Even walking to the butts can be a challenge with peat bogs etc. Can be sunny as you get out the car and snowing when you return. Prepare for the worse, but a brilliant day.
What don’t you leave the house without, clothing wise?
My boots. Always have good boots and I don’t mean wellies. I mean solid goretex walking books. You need a good bed and good boots because if you’re not in one you’re in the other.
Why are grouse so special?
Everything about grouse is special. Just how vulnerable they are to breeding. One cold night in May can almost wipe out a whole brood. One great storm can mean they pack up in August. The moorlands are the most incredible places and to be able to work on them is a huge honour.
We can’t ask what your favourite moor is, but favourite moorland area and why?
I have two answers to this… the North York moors is very special as it’s where I started my career within the grouse circle and I am very lucky to have met and now have some great friends who allowed me to sofa surf, fed and watered me and generally helped me out for years to establish myself in the grouse industry. Then there’s the north Pennines. A huge contrast from Yorkshire. A wild and wet moorland with some stunning views. No two days are the same!
We all have our own opinions on how important moorland management is, but in your opinion – why is it so important?
Both environmentally and economically, these local communities thrive through the management. Whether it’s tourism walking across the beautiful purple heather moorland unbeknown to them that it’s that beautiful due to management from grouse keepers in August. To the red listed wildlife that benefits from heather burning and pest control all year round. If it wasn’t for the highly skilled individuals that maintain the moorlands they’d turn baron or just be over grazed and the communities would die out.
Who would be your dream team to photograph and why?
I actually have a dream team. The team photograph normally on the twelfth. Just hard-working guys that love shooting. Nothing pretentious always a great laugh and can all shoot pretty straight too.
Best shot you’ve seen in action? Or memorable bird?
I have hundreds of great shots. Phil Burt, Ralph Percy, Simon Ward to name a few but probably a friend I often enjoy watch shooting is Jimmy Brough, head keeper at Rosedale and Westerdale. He will outshoot most of these topshots and often does. He kindly took me on a walked-up day a few seasons ago. I am pretty sure between him and his underkeeper Michael they shot most the bag. It is always a pleasure watching those two shoots together. Not much gets passed.
Contact George regarding bookings for Editorial, Fashion or to document a shoot or hunt day.
Photo credits – @georgegunnphoto