Superb shots and the stories behind them

Emanuele Biggi


Emanuele, a naturalist, photographer and TV presenter, followed the tracks of a tiny Peringuey’s adder in the sand of the coastal dunes of the Namib desert near Swakopmund in Namibia. “I used my Micro-Nikkor 60mm lens, with full magnification, because its head was so small,” he says, of the snake, with eyes about 2mm in diameter. “I prepared all flashes and focus away from the snake, so I wouldn’t spook it, then approached and bent over very slowly to get the shot. I used the DX crop factor to get the right shot in camera without having to crop later, though I did slightly crop the file later, to achieve a truly symmetrical view.” The careful approach and terrific capture won the Animals category, and then the Overall award, in the inaugural Close-up Photographer of the Year competition.

D810, AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D, ISO 100, 1/250 sec @ f/16



“I am a halfway creative and talented photographer,” says Matthias, only 50 per cent correctly. “My strength is definitely my ambition. The fact that I work extremely hard and am a fast learner works in my favour.” Those qualities certainly helped him to get this terrific image of US ski jumper Kevin Bickner at the 2017 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland. “This shot is a very technical challenge,” he says. “It’s a combination of a pan with a zoom. Zooming from a shorter to longer focal length, at the same speed as the jumper moves away from the camera towards the spectators in their colourful clothes, keeping the jumper in the frame at the same size – and doing a pan at the same time. Not easy. It took a few tries, but it was so great to see it all come together.” Matthias’s sports photos, taken first as a freelance and now for Getty, at events from winter Olympics to Wimbledon, have won him awards and ad-campaign contracts from leading brands.

D5, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, ISO 200, 1/15 sec @ f/5.6



When your friends are the parkour pros Athina Perroux and Simon Nogueira, and your goal is to create fresh takes on familiar viewpoints, then framing the Sacré-Coeur with the pillars of the Pont de Bir-Hakeim in Paris can lead to exciting new shots. Despite the distance between artist and subjects, Aurore was able to direct them with pinpoint accuracy via a group phone call and headphones. “The space was really compressed because I was using a telephoto lens, so I had to explain the best position to them,” she says, “otherwise they might have put a leg or an arm on the church. When I look at this picture, I really feel that I succeeded in what I was looking for: improving the view of my native city.”

D850, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR, ISO 1600, 1/80 sec @ f/11



At the heart of Istanbul, Turkey’s busiest city, the historic Eminönü shopping district is a spaghetti junction for the merchants, travellers and citizens that come here every day. In February 2019, fashion photographer Merve, with a team of eight, including her model muse, shot a photo story here using a Nikon Z 7, working in and around the traffic of characters that populate the streets. “You can feel the history and sense the memories of the people that lived there throughout the existence of the Ottoman Empire,” says Merve. “It’s a great location because it combines the two continents of Asia and Europe, and gives a sense of true contrast between the modern and the ancient. The series of pictures we made, and this shot in particular, is about capturing that contrast.”

Z 7, NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S, ISO 400, 1/8000 sec @ f/2.8



This photo was taken at the start of Lucie’s ‘in motion’ personal project, in which all her subjects are not only moving but also have moving hobbies or jobs, such as dancers or, here, her friend Natalie, a longboarder. “I needed to get several things right in this shot,” says Lucie. “Her hair movement, expression and pose, the backlight and the composition.” Looking back now with the harsh eye photographers can cast over their own work, Lucie is untypically pleased. “This is a favourite shot of mine, and that usually doesn’t happen with past photos. I’m pretty critical of what I do, so it feels nice to still like something I created.” Her lifestyle and fashion portraits are much loved by her clients, ranging from commercial property firms to online retailers and UNICEF, and her passion for the work never dims. “Shooting is the dream come true, it’s pure joy. I always want to get a story and energy into the photo, and to inspire others by the way I see the world.” Images like this one are proof that she practices what she preaches.

D750, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec @ f/1.8



Dylan and Joanna Kitchener are a husband-and-wife team shooting weddings, proposals, elopements and newlyweds. Couples have their stories immortalised in photos and short films by the duo, who are known for their cinematic and emotional style, inspired by the dramatic landscape of Scotland, where they’re based. “This shot,” says Dylan, “was an unplanned moment when newly married couple Olivia and Brandon decided to have a dance together. The biggest challenge that day was the cold temperature and rainy weather. We’re very fortunate to have couples that are always ready for an adventure whether rain, hail or shine and luckily I was shooting with my Nikon Z 6 which is fully weather-sealed and always ready for whatever the Scottish highlands throw at me.”

Z 6, NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec @ f/2



The feeling of solitude and peace conveyed by this lonely tree is something its maker wanted to capture for years after first stumbling across it on the island of Emäsalo, off Finland’s south coast. “I love how fragile and subtle it looks,” Mikko says. “The hardest part of taking this picture was the cold.” Simple, atmospheric landscapes are his stock in trade, and he can trace the roots of his career back to one he experienced on an early-evening drive in the Finnish countryside. The sun shone on the fog over fields after rain and, he recalls, “I just had to stop and watch this beautiful moment and then I realised that I wanted to start capturing these kinds of moments.” He is entirely self-taught and it’s no surprise that on his website, alongside prints, he sells learning tools including ebooks, video tutorials, Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets.

Z 7, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24 mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 5000, 25 sec @ f/2.8



Six years ago, during a stay in New York, Christian discovered a running crew called Black Roses NYC. “They’re from all walks of life,” he says. “The thing they have in common is running and they’re really good at it. They also party together.” So began his ongoing collaboration with the crew and specifically the runner in this picture, Knox Robinson. “Over the years, we’ve documented cold winter training sessions, intimate moments of early-morning marathon preparations and, more recently, a documentary shot in part with a Nikon D850.” This shot captures Knox jumping over a shop front in Chinatown. “I really enjoyed learning about this part of Manhattan from him. When we accidentally knocked over a box of dried mushrooms, he kindly apologised in perfect Mandarin.”

D810, AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G, ISO 3200, 1/250 sec @ f/4



Stian says his style has “dark energy” and in his portfolio you will find a string of atmospheric Nordic landscapes. But he always takes the opportunity to try something new. In Santa Magdalena in the Italian Dolomites, he trained his Nikon Z 7 on a well-known viewpoint: the beautiful St Johann Church beneath mountains. “I wasn’t content with the more traditional composition of this landscape,” he says, “so I decided to try something different. Luckily, the sun hit the right spot and lit up the church for just a few minutes. I’ve yet to see similar images with such a spotlight on the church, so in a way this one stands out in the crowd. When I think about this shot now, I get the same feeling that I got when I saw the scene unfold: a rush of adrenaline and energy.”

Z 7, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S, ISO 200, 1/640 sec @ f/7.1



Capturing behind-the-scenes stills on the set of a short film with a Nikon Z 6, Tony found the mirrorless camera to be the ideal silent partner. “I never would have been able to get shots like this using a camera without silent shooting capability,” he says. “The low light capability blew me away, too. Not having any control over the lighting made things a little tricky, but the electronic viewfinder really helped out in that respect.” Many of his shots from this job are close images of cast and crew of Night Shift, written and directed by Josh Allen, but this wider view, he says, “really shows what was happening on both sides of the camera. The NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S was very flexible in this respect. Despite his background being predominantly in sports photography, Tony has recently been doing more portrait, fashion and documentary work. “Moving out of my comfort zone,” he says. “That’s a good thing.” We might all learn more by his example.

Z 6, NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S, ISO 5000, 1/125 sec @ f/2.2



In July 2018, on the banks of Lake Julma-Ölkky, in Finland’s Hossa National Park, Konsta found himself on the other side of the lens while shooting a campaign for the Mercedes Benz G-class. While he held the boat, his assistant pressed the shutter. Aside from modelling, the biggest challenge getting this shot, he says, was “to get close enough to the water to get the reflection without ruining the camera. But I think the picture shows perfectly the car’s off-road capability and also represents what the client wanted the car to look like in the campaign.” Finland’s forests and lakes are regular backdrops in the wildlife and landscape shooter’s portfolio. “My work mixes the ordinary natural world with a touch of fairy tale. Showing wildlife and nature in a different light, especially close to cities, inspires me the most.” Here, putting the man-made into nature, he tells a great story and nails the brief.

D850, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 640, 1/400 sec @ f/2.8