Western Australian bird and flower lover publishes handy book of tips and pics

Chris Tate
Chris Tate at the lens

Chris Tate bought his first camera when he turned 11 – a Kodak Instamatic. Then he and a school mate tried valiantly to photograph wild birds. 

“It was near-on impossible,” laughs Chris who today is an award-winning nature photographer. 

After a career in widespread government roles including tourism and providing advice to regional event managers State-wide, Chris developed his artistic skills – photography, sculpting and painting from his home in the south-west. 

He is a contributor to national nature publications, has won numerous photography awards and produced his first book, Photographing our Brilliant West Australian Birds and Wildflowers, published exclusively by Have a Go News

Chris believes that with the widespread availability of cameras, there are many useful tips  – without being too technical – for novices and people using cameras on their phones, iPads and other devices. 

“The book is not about which equipment to use but a reference guide with tips on how to compose images in the frame and what to leave out, how to take better flower images and how to approach native birds without scaring them off,” he said. 

“Knowing how to approach wildlife and the best ways to lessen background clutter increases the standard of your photos so much more. I think it boils down to creativity.” 

When, aged 16, visiting his school mate, Ray, in Katanning, Chris was shown a single-lens, reflex film camera, which was unusual in those days. 

“Ray’s dad drove us out to a bush reserve where we built a small wooden tower up to the nest of a western yellow robin. 

“We took turns sitting in the small hide and photographing the adult birds as they came in to feed the chicks. After several days, we processed the black and white photos using an enlarger and chemicals. 

“The results were surprisingly good and I still have my best image some 50 years later,” Chris said. 

“Now there has been huge advances in technology. But not everyone knows how to use it. You could question if there will be a future place for photographers with so many apps, automatic camera modes and effects in-camera and on devices. 

“With a bit of understanding, results can be more imaginative and interesting,” he said. 

Chris recalls working, briefly, at WA’s original, professional colour laboratory in Subiaco. 

“Rolls of negative film had a code cut into the top edge which you had to learn to recognise by touch in the darkroom to determine which chemicals were used to process them. 

“It was very embarrassing when I dropped a professional photographer’s roll of film into the wrong bath and destroyed all his images. When he came in to collect his precious photos he was advised the ‘new kid’ had ruined them all.” 

Chris gave photography away for many years until he went on a walking safari in South Africa. 

“I bought my first digital camera and telephoto lens to capture the wildlife. It really reinvigorated my interest in photography again,” he said. 

Chris joined a local camera club and learnt a lot about all aspects of photography. To have his images published, he wrote articles for newspapers and magazines and entered photo competitions. 

A fourth generation West Aussie and youngest of four boys, my brother Chris has been in various management roles in Kalgoorlie, Karratha and Bunbury. 

After his first full-time job delivering telegrams on a bicycle from the Cottesloe Post Office, Chris worked with SGIO for 24 years.

He worked with Homeswest and then for 16 years, Tourism WA, including six years as Wheatbelt regional manager and 10 years as regional manager of EventsCorp. 

A keen cyclist he entered events in Tasmania, South Africa and WA. 

Photographing our brilliant WA
Available for purchase for $25

Chris was appointed official photographer for the State Cycling Championships, Boyup Brook Country Music Festival, Nannup Music Festival, Christmas Island Bird Week and Bunbury Multicultural Festival. 

A Perth Royal Show nature section judge, Chris took photos for the maps of the Bibbulmun Track and Munda Biddi Bike Trail from Perth to Albany. 

“Photography is a creative and artistic activity that gets me outdoors, bush-walking, travelling and enjoying nature. I have met some really interesting people, been on some incredible ventures and seen so many amazing natural sights,” he said. 

His competition wins include: Kings Park Wildflower Photo, Our Planet Travel, Austraflora Photo, Bunbury’s Setagaya Sister Cities, WA Travel Best Holiday, Curtin University National Science Week, Aquest Photo and Shire of Dardanup. Plus his winning images featured in five calendar photo competitions. 

Facebook: Chris Tate Photography and Chris Tate-Bird Images. www.christatephotography.com

To purchase a copy of the book for $25 call the office on 9227 8283 or download the form here.