Like many kids, Robert developed an interest in nature and particularly animals early in his life. When not outside exploring, he was reading old National Geographic’s with tales of the mysterious dark continent of Africa. The strong link between the natural world and photography, led to his settling in Southern Africa in 1983. Over the next 20 years, he explored and photographed extensively in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, in a wide range of environments, from desert to semi-tropical. He soon realized that developing a photographic vision also required a deep understanding of the subject; a deeper insight and appreciation of animal behavior, and the interaction between animal and environment. Not surprisingly, this also led to many adventures and often intimate and fascinating encounters with wildlife, large and small. While there are many reasons for becoming a nature photographer, perhaps the most important one is just being out there: the adventure, the experience and the photography go hand-in-hand.
Robert moved to the United States in 2000 and formed his own company: Nunnington Natural Images. He photographs in many regions of the United States, including the Great Smoky Mountains, Maine, the Rocky Mountains, the Florida coast and the high desert regions of the South Western US.
What drives me as a photographer is to bring a personal vision of a scene or animal to the viewer; my interpretation of how I visualize the world and its possibilities. Behind this drive, is a striving for the great light, whether it be the golden hours of an African evening, or the alpenglow on a mountain peak. My appreciation of the unique way in which we as humans perceive the world was sharpened many years ago, after attending a seminar on how different animals use eyesight and other senses to unique advantage in their particular ecological niche. Other than the primates and some raptors, humans are unique in their ability to perceive detail and such an incredible range and depth of color in the natural world. While our other senses may have become blunted over the millennia, the ability to perceive the natural world in such detail and amazing color is something we take for granted, and yet this defines us as a species.
In my early career as a photographer in Southern Africa, I immersed myself in understanding animal behavior and the relationship of animal and environment. This has remained with me in that I strive to portray something about the relationship between the animal and its home in my work. The light in Southern Africa is special, although it can be elusive. It is a harsh region, and for much of the day the light is also harsh, particularly at the higher elevations of the plateau. However, there are magic hours early in the day and late evening where the light becomes golden, and the magical interplay between the light and the animal or scene has the chance to show itself to its fullest. It is the very nature of light; that it offers such a wide range of possibilities, from the rich and dramatic light of the desert, to the soft and gentle light of the rainforest. Now I reside in the USA, I have a different palette of light and subject matter, and I find myself drawn more and more to photographing intimate scenics or the magnificent vistas of the West and Southwest. I also find myself returning to the black and white medium for specific scenes or locations; where the drama of a stormy sky is more emotive when rendered to tones rather than color. While it is somewhat ironic that I started with black and white landscapes early in my career, before learning about the perception of color; it is also somehow a natural progression to appreciating the power of the black and white medium.
Shooting for Fine Art Photography is very different to shooting for stock photography. It allows for a much more intimate relationship between artist and audience, and importantly, allows almost total control over the final image, which defines that unique moment in time. Scenic photography, for instance, demands a different way of working. Creating that unique moment often demands working in a methodical way with a location, not hurrying it; allowing my perception and vision of the place to develop until the timing of light and place and nature's offering is just right, and I make the connection. Another truism is that you make your own luck and being there at the right time to create that personal view is rarely by chance. I aim to take the viewer to a place which is very personal, but it is also in a sense created for them - to entertain and yet stimulate their sense of wonder at a world which we so often take for granted.
Publications and Awards
Through various stock agencies, Robert has been widely published in virtually all the major end products associated with wildlife photography, in numerous books, calendars, editorials, and advertising outlets. His images have been used in corporate advertising themes for some of the world's largest corporations in the automotive, rental car, and food and beverage industries. Robert's photographs have appeared in major publications such as GeO, Stern, BBC Wildlife, Hasselblad Forum, Inner Reflections and numerous books such as those published by National Geographic and Time Life. He was awarded 1st prize in the prestigious international AGFA Wildlife Awards for wildlife photography, having already won 2nd place in previous competitions. In addition, he has placed several times in the BBC/Shell/NHM Wildlife Photographer Awards.