This is way better than the Royal Wedding.
Dutch photographer Geert Weggen has published a photo series that gives us an inside look at the most-awaited event of the year: a squirrel wedding.
In the series, the couple partakes in romantic ceremonies such as arriving in a horse-drawn carriage, exchanging vows (sans a squirrel priest), and enjoying some tea and cake at the reception. At one point, the husband even plays the piano for his beloved bride. So sweet!
According to Weggen, it takes him anywhere from a day to nearly a week to capture these rare photos. He also requires a lot of patience, not to mention some crafty prop arrangement, to get the job done.
“I set up scenes and often I tie props to a board on a table. When the scene is ideal, then the most important part is where I put the food,” the 48-year-old creative told Lost At E Minor. “If I want the squirrel picking something up, then I tie some food to it. Hanging food makes the squirrels climb, etc.”
As for his fee? He didn’t say how much he charged the squirrel couple – or if he was paid in cash or in acorns.
We recently had a quick interview with Weggen, wherein he talks more about wildlife photography, as well as gives sage advice to aspiring nature photographers.
How did you get into photography? And why did you especially chose to focus on nature and wildlife?
“As a child, I felt more at peace in with nature than among people. I still feel that. At the age of 17, I had a dark room and made photos for a youth magazine, but along the way, photography had lost its interest until digital photography came along. I loved the option to take photos without having to develop them.
“Five years ago I started getting serious with photos again when a fox started to come to my house, and for two weeks he came every day. I took a lot of photos and, thereafter, a big bird came and started to eat out of my hand the first day. I started taking photos like I do now with squirrels.”
Take us through your process. How do you prepare for a shoot like the squirrel wedding?
“Without food, no photos. The squirrels search for food and, in this case, I hang or hide it in places I want the red squirrels to come. They are wild and decide to come and do what they please. They visit my outside studio, which is three meters from my kitchen window where I capture many photos.
“The goal for the wedding series was to have it connected with the royal marriage in England. An agency asked me if I wanted to do this series around the theme.
“I set up scenes and often I tie props to a board on a table. When the scene is ideal, then the most important part is where I put the food. If I want the squirrel picking something up, then I tie some food to it. Hanging food makes the squirrels climb, etc.
“There are days when more than 12 wild red squirrels visit my garden, and I create scenes and sit mainly in my kitchen to photograph them.
“After five years working with squirrel photography, I do know what they are going to do when I put food in a spot. I have lines in the air where I can adjust the food bucket. Often it is just about a centimetre of what the photo makes. The food must be placed exactly right.”
What equipment did you use?
“I use mainly a D810 Nikon and an 80-400 mm Nikon lens with flashes and tripods.”
How long did the photoshoot take?
“Some scenes can take five days before I capture what I want, but that is rare. Most of the time each scene takes me a day. The total series has taken me about three weeks shooting, but the most time is sitting in finding props takes months.”
What’s your best advice for aspiring nature photographers?
“I love working close to my home and work isolated that makes this type of photography so fitting for me. I looked for a house close to the forest where wild animals feel at home. My advice is photograph what you love and think outside the box.”
What photography project are you looking to do next?
“I just finished Wimbledon and Tour de France – two beautiful series that are with news agencies now.”
Finally, what would be your dream photo project?
“The way I photograph wild animals can be done with any animal. It would be wonderful to capture other wild animals in interaction with people or props. I’ve done bird and fox photos, but crocodiles, lions, elephants etc. would be a wonderful challenge.”