Photographer Courtney Moore on taking winning wildlife shots

SNAPP Guides talked to US photographer Courtney Moore about her winning wildlife shots and how she set about creating a stunning portfolio of images of red foxes that earned her this year’s Young Travel Photographer of the Year award (Places and Experiences)

Jules – “Hi Courtney, Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you discovered a passion for photography” Courtney – “For about 12 years my world has revolved around my love for photography and nature. Since I was six, I would explore our backyard woods, with a camera in hand, and get lost for hours studying all the plants and animals I could find. With an abundance of bird species in the area, I started studying and photographing birds in earnest, learning as many species as I could by sight and sound. My parents would take me on trips across the country for the sole purpose of photographing birds. As I grew older I gradually began to expand my photographic horizons by not only taking photos of birds but also other animals. Recently I have been focusing on photographing predators, specifically foxes and coyotes. I like to incorporate not only my subjects in my work but also how they interact with their environment as well as each other.”

Windswept fox on Island Beach State Park, New Jersey, by Courtney Moore

Jules – “How did you plan your shoot for the photos you entered into the TPOTY competition?” Courtney – “After researching online local places to photograph wildlife, I came across a park about 4 hours away from where I live that was known for having a large population of red foxes. After the first trip became an overall success, with sightings of about 10 foxes, Island Beach State Park has become one of my favorite places to photograph wildlife for the past few years. Although the foxes are there year-round, they are more conspicuous in the winter, many times being spotted walking down the middle of the road.

A red fox treads gingerly across the frozen lake in sub-zero temperatures

Jules  – “Can you tell us a bit about the story behind your winning portfolio?” Courtney – “After visiting Island Beach State Park and observing the unique behavior the foxes have with each other and their environment, I decided that I wanted to document this through my photographs. Specifically I wanted my photos to display the struggles the foxes face in their daily lives. Two of my photos show how the harsh weather effect these animals; one picture was taken on a day with the temperature dipping below zero as the fox quickly treads across a frozen lake while the other photo shows a fox sitting on the beach as the wind violently whips sand across its body. My other two photographs focus on the interaction between individuals of this species. In one photo, the two foxes are baring their teeth at one another in a show of dominance and submission. In the last photo one fox in unpleasantly roused when another fox aggressively attacks him.”

An unexpected attack

Jules – “How do you usually find the best locations to photograph wildlife? Courtney – “Usually before travelling to a new location, I research online where the best places to see and photograph certain species of wildlife are. But after arrival I try to have an open-mind and very few expectations because while I find photographing animals to be greatly enjoyable and rewarding it can also be very frustrating given they are so unpredictable. Although there may be suggestions on where an animal can be found there is never any guarantee when photographing wildlife. I haven’t tried out my new SNAPP Guides prizes yet, but I can see it would be an app that I would use often when travelling. Since animals are so unpredictable, I always like to leave my options open referring to specific locations to visit, this way if there is a lack of wildlife in one area I could always try another. I think in this aspect SNAPP Guides would be quite helpful in providing potential good spots.”

Who’s the boss here?

Jules – “Where are you hoping your next journey will take you with your camera?” Courtney – “I am more than happy travelling anywhere that allows me to study and photograph animals and their environment. I have always had a fascination with the wildlife that inhabits the remote areas of Canada and the United States. If I had to choose one place to travel based solely around my photography it would have to be Alaska. Not only is the landscape breathtaking but the diversity of plants and animals that live in such an unforgiving environment astounds me.

Jules – “Well, we’re currently in discussion with a great Alaska-based photographer, so watch this space! So let’s hope we’ll have that ready in time for your trip! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your wonderful work”

To see more of Courtney’s wildlife photography, check out her website.


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