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Home > Photography Inspiration > Portfolio: Gavin Parsons

With a career spanning over 20 years in the air, on the ground and underwater Gavin has a varied portfolio. Here he has chosen a few memorable images, which show the breadth of his photographic work. 

As impactful as this image is, it is actually a training exercise for Nuclear Biological and Chemical police officers. This special unit comes to life during terrorist or chemical incidents. Gavin was asked to photograph this little known unit as part of a Home Office project to create a photographic library of the police forces around the UK.

Everyone in the UK remembers the 2012 Olympic Games. The River Thames was central to the Games and Gavin was given special access to record the build up and opening day. This image, one of Gavin’s favourites, is the French tallship Bellem arriving at Tower Bridge at sunset. The ship was used by the French team as a marketing base and was one of the most beautiful vessels on the River during the event. Gavin took this image from another boat escorting the Bellem up river.

All working photographers get seemingly mundane jobs, but they do not have to produce mundane images. This is a paper wholesale company. They buy huge rolls of paper and sell them onto publishing companies. Sounds fairly dull a subject to photograph, but by using the light effectively and an unusual angle means this is one of Gavin’s favourite industrial images. 

As an award-wining wildlife photographer, Gavin has an affinity for all wildlife. This image was created for International Animal Rescue and is a slow loris rescued from the illegal pet trade. Slow lorises have a venomous coating on their teeth which causes painful bites, so traders clip the teeth off with nail clippers (a very painful procedure). Here a vet is taking the broken teeth out in a root canal operation, a delicate process due to the size and proclivity of lorises for dying due to stress. 

International Animal Rescue (IAR) also started an orangutan rescue centre. Orangutans like the slow loris in the image before are victims of the illegal pet trade. When orangutans are confiscated from people’s homes they are often in terrible conditions and are taken to the charity’s specialist rescue centre. This is one of the first animals rescued by the charity and although this image looks horrible, the animal is actually going to enjoy freedom for the first time and will eventually be released into the wild. 

Gavin loves being by and in the sea and one rough and windy day befriended a lure sea angler. This shot was taken early on October morning and the sun in the background was the only glimpse that day. This is actually the last of a sequence when the fisherman got soaked by a huge wave.

This image came courtesy of a dodgy curry. Without the iffy stomach Gavin would have been in the water not photographing divers getting back on board. Gavin used a favoured single off-camera technique to lift the subject away from the darker background. The flash adds crispness to the small details and you get a completely different look and feel to a shot. 

The environmental NGO Greenpeace International was looking for an underwater photographer with experience in dangerous environments and found Gavin and he became one of its chosen assignment photographers. He joined the Mediterranean Marine Reserves campaign which included a campaign against the blue fin tuna fishery that targets the enormous fish during the spawning season. Killing an animal before it can make more is just plain stupid Gavin says and he was only too pleased to be shot at, pelted with lead weights and shouted at to deliver Greenpeace’s message. This image show campaigners demonstrating against a Spanish purse seine vessel fleeing after trying to catch fish off the coast of Cyprus. 

In 1992 Gavin was part of a team that helped set up a multi-zone marine park off a small Tanzanian island. 13 years later Gavin went back to Mafia island (nothing to do with gangsters) to see what effect the marine park was having. One thing that had changed was the abundance of whalesharks. The day this image was taken the water was fairly turbid and the sun strong. Glare underwater was intense and when our boat found this young whaleshark it swam towards us and stayed in the shadow of the boat. It was soon joined by a shoal of small fish and at one point they passed between Gavin and the shark allowing him to capture this image which was highly commended in the wildlife photographer of the year. 

The Taj Mahal is one of the most visited attractions on the planet. It gets packed with visitors (perhaps not during a pandemic), so Gavin arrived at 5.30am and queued for the 6am opening. The early start was partly to get the light and partly to avoid the crowds. Gavin isn’t one for just taking the same shot as everyone else and looked for something a little different and decided to put its backside in everyone else’s shots and lay on the ground at the end of the pond leading up to the mausoleum. It is one of Gavin’s favourite location images he’s taken. 


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