My name is Peter Yuen and I've been working with wildlife and conservation charities for the past 5 years, covering rescues and stories of animals at sanctuaries across Asia.

My favourite recent shoots: rescuing bears by boat in Vietnam, driving an elephant across Thailand to her new forest home, photographing pangolins and slow lorises in the middle of the night, and spreading the word of a bear cub who learned how to walk after being rescued from poachers in Cambodia.

I help charities that need images for awareness or fundraising (and any animal that looks cute). I never accept payment from the charities, so I support my work through my crowd-funding page: www.patreon.com/peteryuenphotography.

My Proof:

Pic on FB: https://www.facebook.com/PeterYuenPhotography Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/yuenpkc/status/625315674936602630

EDIT AGAIN? How many edits am I supposed to do? Anyway I'm back and I will answer any questions you have, thank you so much for making this AMA a really positive experience!

EDIT: Ok you monsters, it's 4am here so I am going to call it a night. Thank you so much to everyone who has asked a question and a special thank you to those who have shared my Patreon or Facebook links from above and helped spread the word for these animals. It has been really fun, and I will answer each and every question tomorrow!

Comments: 312 • Responses: 86  • Date: 

MitchNYM79 karma

What charity would you recommend giving to?

P7uen195 karma

There is a huge distrust of charities, especially large global ones, and I believe some of it is justified in terms of where donations go and what they actually do. I only work with charities that I really trust in terms of their welfare/conservation policies and where the money goes, so the easy answer would be you can check my website for a list of worthy charities.

For me though, I would recommend donating (or helping out or simply helping spread the word) for a good charity close to you that needs help. There are so many dog and cat or urban wildlife charities around the world that need help so 'think globally, act locally', and all that jazz!

shwheat41 karma

How did you get to where you are as a photographer?

P7uen95 karma

I think it's the same as anything: mostly just hard work and really caring for it. I started out by contacting everyone I could that could help me take photos of animals, got rejected many, many times, and worked on it in every free moment I had for many years. Whatever your skill or passion, I think you can't help but keep working at it regardless of anything else.

For me the most important aspect is caring about the work you do (and the animals in my case). Many photographers believe "getting the shot" is the most important thing. I will happily miss the shot if it interferes with a veterinary procedure, if it means causing any stress to the animal, or anything like that. You might miss the shot, but you gain a lot of trust and that's more valuable in the long run.

eatingaloneindiners2 karma

what should I do if I don't have a passion?

P7uen2 karma

Start a photo blog of eating alone in diners, post it on Reddit, get famous!

But if you're serious, I can tell you I had no passion until I started doing this, I never picked up a camera until about 2009. I tell everyone to try everything, every activity they can think of until they find the thing it is that they love doing. Some people think they're "not good at anything". Everyone's good at something, it might just be hiding, you need to go out and find it.

loserlame39 karma

What kind of gear do you usually bring? What was the most difficult animal to shoot?

P7uen93 karma

I'll take 2 DSLRs in case one breaks and to avoid lens changes (Canon 1DmkIV and 70D at the moment) and a variety of lenses. I never use flash on animals and rarely need a tripod, but take torches and a head lamp, plus tonnes of SD/CF cards (I never overwrite until they're all backed up), at least 2 hard drives for backup (one for baggage, one for hand luggage) and a laptop for sorting/processing in the field. My shoulders are usually destroyed after a few days of carrying it all around...

The most difficult shoots where probably involving pangolins. Last time around I waited around 6 hours for the little critters to wake up around 3am, and then set about shooting them with faint head lamps so as not to disturb them. One sound and they disappear into their burrows. Totally worth it though!

I also photograph a lot of cruelty for various charities, which is always very difficult in a different way, especially when you have to pretend not to be upset about what you're seeing.

loserlame19 karma

That sound really tough, having to witness abuses, especially when you are dedicating your life to helping animals. If I could ask one more questions… Are you solely dependent on donations for this, or are you doing any paid work when not doing volunteer work?

P7uen5 karma

I'm dependent on the pledges on my Patreon page, although I teach photography and run photo tours to earn money as well. I give half of that to the charities as well. Yeah, I'm not very good at keeping money!

GiornaGuirne7 karma

A fellow Canon fan!

Do you photograph as a hobby at all, or is the wildlife enough?

Have you/do you shoot on film?

What's your favorite camera to work with?

P7uen5 karma

I'm really brand agnostic, the first thing I teach students is not to listen to anyone who says one is better than the other!

I rarely get the camera out for anything but animals, it just doesn't hold my interest. But the moment an animal is around, I'll start shooting no matter what or why.

I've never shot on film, I'm not that romantic unfortunately! I think it's great that newcomers can get instant feedback on their photos and try again, it's such a boon for learning although I know film photographers and the older generation can get a bit upset about that. I think it's great the more the merrier, it's basically a time/money issue not a skill issue, as its just buying film and getting them developed before getting your feedback, instead of pressing the play button. I think it evens the playing field.

I have only had a 400D, 50D, 70D and 1DmkIV. All the cameras now are fantastic, the 50D was the worst in terms of ISO, really awful. I want to be buried with my 1DmkIV I love it so much. It copes with anything, it's so robust, trustworthy, reliable, it never stops shooting, 10fps and rarely a buffering in sight, although admittedly that's not used very often.

GoGoGadgetPants3 karma

Hello there, I'm kinda in the same line of work, in terms of shooting abroad professionally, and people always ask me why I carry so many hard drives and related backup equipment. If your only hard drive etc. fails/gets stolen/lost in the middle of nowhere, you're SOL. You can also tell how serious someone is about their work whether or not they have multiple redundant backups and backup gears! Kudos to you and your work!

P7uen3 karma

Yes people give you funny looks don't they!

jdean3111 karma

If you don't use flash and do a lot of low light shooting like this, you should check out the Sony A7s. It's very pricey but the high ISO performance is unreal.

P7uen26 karma

I'm pretty locked into Canon at this point, but if High Powered Sony Execs are reading and want to give me free gear, I'm all ears!

The ISO performance these days is fantastic, I previously had a 50D which I didn't really look into and couldn't really use it over 800, it was abysmal, I still have nightmares about it.

Poromenos2 karma

How great is the swivel screen on the 70D though, huh.

P7uen16 karma

It's not so great when I'm changing settings on the touch screen with my horrid sweating face, though.

Poromenos3 karma

Turn the screen off during usage, you heathen!

P7uen10 karma

I think I've turned it off with my cheek by now.

diegojones421 karma

Wow, what a cool niche to get into. How did it come about that you discovered / created this specialty? Also, do you find yourself sometimes getting frustrated how now everyone considers themselves a photographer?

P7uen38 karma

I really just loved animals and taking photos, so decided to combine the two! I was based in Hong Kong at that time so there are not many animals around. I contacted the local dog and cat charities to help them, and whenever I travelled I just contacted places with animals to see if they needed help, it kind of ballooned from there!

I think it's great that it's so easy to get into photography and I really love teaching people photography. What does upset me is photographers who aren't specialised in animals who simply do not know how to act or work with animals, who can often cause them stress.

I know what you mean though, I did read one guide to becoming a photographer along the lines of "1. Buy a camera, 2. You are now a photographer". I've found that the people who make a big noise but are not really serious generally lose interest quite quickly, or have interest lost in them, so you just have to keep focusing on your own thing!

diegojones413 karma

Thanks, that makes me feel better.

I loved studying the settings and composition and lighting. Then people started commenting "You should photoshop the other bird out." It just seemed like cheating. Then National Geographic photoshoped the pyramids. I want to be a photographer, not an expert in photoshop.

Anyway, thanks for the reply and keep up the good work. I love animals too.

P7uen2 karma

I think that's a great attitude. I always treat each photo as a lesson: if you have a bit you wish you could Photoshop out, let that be a lesson for us next time on what to look out for and avoid. It's too easy just to Photoshop things instead, it makes you lazy. And once you Photoshop something once, the rest of your work is now in question, that's the way I see it.

challenge418 karma

Hi Peter! What's the most common misconception about Wildlife Rescue?

P7uen42 karma

Hi! I think the biggest misconception would be that rescuing the animals is the hardest part of the job. It can be tough with the veterinary or logistical requirements of rescuing animals from weird locations but really that's the easy part.

The Animals Asia rescue earlier this year was using 2 boats of people and a fishing boat for the 2 caged bears on a remote island in Vietnam with a team of 5-10 people including vets, driving many hours cross-country while keeping these bears alive and happy for these 2 or 3 days, with staff working around the clock in heat, humidity, rainstorms, all sorts.

It's easy to think that's difficult, but compared to the months of work that went on behind the scenes before hand, that is the easy part! Dealing with governments or government departments, getting enough money for the whole operation, getting official permissions or dealing with private owners in some countries, or law enforcment, getting permits to cross borders, all this stuff is so, so difficult, it's incredible to see the amount of work they do behind the scenes that isn't glamorous or much appreciated.

EDIT: Forgot to mention one other tiny item: looking after the bears for the next 20-30 years!

blurry0012 karma

How has your work helped some of the charities?

P7uen20 karma

My favourite part of this work is getting feedback from the charities about getting what they need, which is usually lots of cute photos of their animals and their work. Getting their story out their and being able to get donations, especially for the smaller charities with fewer resources, is really critical for them. I'm so sure people will care about all this amazing work that is being done, they just need to get the word out there!

Although I've been lucky enough to work with some amazing organisations and animals, personally what really warms my cockles is when my photos lead to the adoption of a cat or dog, I guess it hits quite close to home.

Tgk230912 karma

What was the scariest shot you have ever taken in terms of proximity to a dangerous animal?

P7uen36 karma

Since I shoot mostly rescued animals (in a good way...) I'm not usually in too much danger, except to say that almost all wild animals are dangerous and it's easy to get complacent when you are around them a lot.

I've been charged by plenty of animals and scratched and chomped by a few but part of what I do means being extremely responible and gaining the trust of the animals and the charities. I still often need to change my trousers afterwards. Most animals will swipe at you and I work a lot with elephants which can be very dangerous. I was documenting cruelty at an 'elephant polo' event in Thailand last year and a fight broke out between 2 elephants just metres away from the crowd.

Humans are often more worrying, when documenting cruelty cases, owners can be quite intimidating if they realise what you're doing. Also anything that is anywhere near a snake. At all. Even a friendly one with no teeth. Nope!

MeatSnake911 karma

How are you treated when you travel to more of the remote locations? Do locals support you or try and stop you?

P7uen19 karma

Most people are very welcoming. Here in Cambodia the people are so friendly even if you don't share a single word of language in common. Most local people in the more remote areas are extremely knowledgeable about their environment, it's incredible.

People who know they're doing something wrong are not so friendly. If people realise you are taking photos of cruelty they will disappear or start to intimidate you, so I usually force a smile and pretend to be a dumb tourist. I hate to think I'm giving the impression that tourists like such things, but I think the greater good comes from getting good footage of it.

themoleofdoom11 karma

What would you say is absolutly necessary gear to get started with wildlife photography for someone who's already got some experience in street photography?

P7uen23 karma

A camera is almost essential I would say... no but seriously whatever gear you have is good enough for now. I have never had the best gear and my lenses are still all 3rd-party. I was lucky enough to be given a great camera body for half price by a generous person who wanted to help my work, but it doesn't make a huge difference. If you just keep shooting you will quickly work out what lenses you need if you make a note every time you curse yourself for not getting the shot you want!

I find I don't really need anything over 200mm, since I'm not a birder or on safaris or anything. If I had to choose one lens it would be my 70-200mm F2.8 Sigma. A camera/card with a good throughput so you don't get any buffering if you're having to take a lot of shots is a godsend, if I'm swearing while I'm shooting it's usually because "BUSY" is flashing in my 70D viewfinder.

A lot of patience and practice is much more important than any of the gear, I think.

chetzzzz11 karma

What is your most heart breaking story that you've witnessed?

P7uen46 karma

I can't actually talk about some of the most memorable ones as there are always lots of work going on behind the scenes that might be compromised if people know that they have been documented at the moment (that sounds a bit more glamorous than it is).

Before I started this I don't think I cried at all, but I now regularly cry like a little baby girl at some of the things I see, but usually happy ones.

An elephant rescued by Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary cried after we got her back to the sanctuary after driving her 12 hours from her camp where she had worked for all 65 years of her life. I never believed the stories about crying elephants before that, but it really did happen (http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Blog/Naamfon-Goes-Home)

There are so many others as it's very emotional when you have a lot of hard-working and dedicated people together working for days with little rest to rescue these animals. The other one that comes to mind is my favourite little bear Blue, who is in my FB page profile pic. He had a deformed back when he was rescued as a cub, and it was recommended to have him euthanised. Free the Bears refused to give up on him as long as he wasn't in pain and there was a chance he would survive. He gradually learned how to walk is now very healthy. On top of that, the video of his story reached nearly a million people which was a huge success for Free the Bears and myself!

Vellablu10 karma

Thank you so much for bringing awareness to this. Elephants are my favorite animals and I've always had my heart set on meeting one and riding on its back...

I am going backpacking through Thailand in November. And my number one goal was to finally ride an elephant. After reading your elephant story and doing research on BLES, I have to come realize I no longer want to ride an elephant because I refuse to contribute to this cruelty. My heart breaks for them and I now want to make sure I visit this sanctuary instead of going to the tourist hotspots to see the elephants. Thank you again for bringing awareness to this cause! I feel completely ignorant to what has been going on with the elephants and I am so thankful I will not be contributing to this disgusting treatment! Thank you for opening my eyes. And please let me know how I can help when I visit there! I'd love to spend a couple of my days volunteering to the elephants there. PM any information and who I need to contact.

P7uen11 karma

That's FANTASTIC Vellablu, we all have to learn it at some point. I have been on elephant rides in the past before I knew how it worked, and I just feel terrible about supporting that cruelty that I just didn't think about or believed what they told me about it. Even Ric O'Barry worked with Flipper for years before he realised the harm it doing to dolphins and now look at him, so we all have chance to change!

You can find other good sanctuaries in Thailand on EARS website, they visit places all around Asia and list those particular ethical places. You can still have a lovely elephant experience :) http://www.earsasia.org/#!where-to-visit/c1167

Jobcv3149 karma

• What's your opinion of groups like Sea Shepherd?

• What event inspired you to enter into your chosen profession?

• Have you ever encountered a situation where you witnessed illegal animal poaching and took photos of as it happened for evidence later?

P7uen16 karma

I have nothing but respect for people like Sea Shepherd and just how much they put on the line for the animals and for the next generations of humans. Some groups can tend towards more extreme or negative imagery which isn't to everyone's tastes and not my preferred style personally. I would never have the balls to be out on one of those boats so props to them.

There are lots of approaches to increasing awareness and trying to enact change, and I think it does need all sorts. Working with many organisations, some of which work in the same countries with the same animals, means I'm very good at remaining somewhat neutral, so this answer might be a bit boring.

I had a mid life crisis when I was about 25 (is that a pre-life crisis?) and was sick of the corporate job I used to have. I simply sat down (actually I think I was pacing around) and thought about what I loved. Taking photos and animals were the two things so I just started emailing everyone I could to try and combine those things. The rest is history!

I'm based in Cambodia right now so I do occasionally see illegal activities going on and I take photos and report it to the local authorities (the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team). We're very lucky to have the laws and the enforcement here; most SE Asian countries don't have that luxury. I don't usually go on raids and such, although I will hopefully be doing some of that in the coming year. The poachers are usually much more knowledgeable than the law enforcement in capturing animals, so they get caught at the smuggling or selling stage. I do document suffering at things like zoos and events for other charities to build a case against them though, which is tough but very satisfying in the end.

iwazaruu8 karma

Favorite SEA country? Best memory you have in that country?

P7uen14 karma

For the moment I'm based in Cambodia, and it is a wonderful and welcoming country.

My favourite memories here probably involve little rescued bear cubs, probably seeing "Blue" the little bear cub start to walk for the first time, I spent a bit of time with him and he is very close to my heart. I'm no videographer, but I did put a video together for Free the Bears on the little chap, still gives me a lump in my throat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgsBEyab-fU

aaaayyyoo8 karma

First, thank you for your work, it is SO appreciated!

Having lived in Thailand, it was really difficult to see the amount of elephant camps there which tourists would visit knowing that these were typically harmful to the animals. Are there any organizations in Thailand or other southeast Asian countries which allow people to get close and interact with these animals? How can we know which organizations to trust and are there any signs that a person could easily pick up on to sway away from certain "camps" or experiences?

P7uen15 karma

Thank you for caring about the elephants and for spreading the word about the cruelty of the camps! Elephants are a big part of my work, and what you describe is probably the biggest problem with them, it's really tough.

I work with a fantastic organisation called EARS who keep a list of ethical elephant places in Asia you can visit (or recommend to visit) http://www.earsasia.org/#!where-to-visit/c1167

I also work with Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) in Sukhothai, which is probably the most incredible experience you can have with rescued elephants. There are other places like this but they are few and far between. A lot of camps will also claim to use positive reinforcement and so on, as they have picked up on tourists' dislike of cruelty.

You can see from the EARS website above many recommendations, but essentially any chained elephants, using hooks on the ellies, elephant rides are generally considered unnecessary and cruel, and you can look out for 'stereotypies' such as elephants swaying heads or rocking back and forth that can indicated stress. Any baby elephants working is just not acceptable, and even worse if they have been separated from their mothers.

In particular to look out for: if the mahouts are not using hooks, try and see if they are using their thumb to push the elephant to do what they want. More often than not they're concealing a big masonry nail and pushing it into the elephant skin. I've documented this many times and they have become very good at hiding it. You can see some examples here: http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Blog/Surin-Round-Up-2013

This is people's livelyhoods. Lousie Rogerson, founder of EARS has recommended that if people really do insist on visiting the tourist camps, that they simply don't ride the elephants, ask to just feed or take photos with an elephant instead. Show them the change that you want them to make, and that they don't need to be cruel to make money.

Beta4eva6 karma

Have you ever been attacked by an animal?

P7uen5 karma

I've never got any injuries from animals, and it is so easy to get complacent that you have to make a conscious effort to remind yourself of your situation sometimes. If I ever do have an animal lash out, which happens sometimes, I call it a day, or at least a time out. If they're lashing out then they're stressed and I don't want to cause them any stress at all, that's my fault not theirs.

On the plus side, I've got attacked by plenty of bear cubs and puppies, which is very enjoyable.

Actually thinking about it there was once a snake that kept striking at me at a sanctuary in Botswana. I forget the species, but the handler (who I had only just met) told me not to worry, while it was identical to the venomous snake we just saw, this one was harmless and only looks similar as a defence mechanism. Nope!

I really don't like snakes.

Rose12665 karma

Wow, that's amazing! I have a few questions, How did you get started in charity photography? What's your favorite part of your job? What would you say to other artists looking to support themselves with crowd funding?

P7uen4 karma

I got started simply by thinking about what I love doing and then doing it! I sent out millions of emails and got mostly rejected, but some came back and you just keep going from there.

The favourite part of my job is when I'm not doing it! What I tell my students (I teach photography as well) is to remember to put the camera down sometimes, and those are the best moments. There are some really amazing things to experience and too many times I've not taken a moment to appreciate being around these animals, which is a huge privilege for any of us. They should really be in their natural habitat and we should never see them, let alone need to rescue them. I think crowd-funding is really amazing and I am so grateful for it, you can't even imagine! it's not ideal and it's not stable, but it's people giving to you simply because they appreciate the work you do, and I don't think there is anything more heartwarming in life. Who knows how long it will last, it may disappear tomorrow, so I guess advice to people looking for that is firstly to just go for it (you have nothing to lose!), and secondly always have a backup like your parents told you to. Stay in school, kids!

xiangnull4 karma

What's your opinion about the recent trend of people only look into endangered yet cute animals instead of endangered, but not-so-what-you-expected type? Same goes with funding as well, like the funding spent in taking care of panda, that can be used to save other endangered species that will have more environmental impact to the ecosystem.

P7uen9 karma

My last photo essay was on the Turtle Conservation Centre in Cuc Phoung national Park in Vietnam, who look after 800 rescued turtles. The fantastic guy running it, Hao, was lamenting how difficult it was for them to get support; turtles just aren't as cute and cuddly as the other wildlife. Situations like this are exactly the reason I want to do what I do, and I provided them with (hopefully) lovely pictures of turtles to stir up people's interest. The Critically Endangered Vietnamese pond turtle looks like... a turtle. It's really hard for them to drum up support for this animal which has just as much right to be here as the cute bear cubs and whatnot. Sadly I don't think this problem is going away. At the same time, I don't think that tendency should be ignored. Some organisations deliberately point out this hypocrisy, and insist on campaigning for chickens and turkeys. I understand that, but maybe we need to get them to care about the fluffy ones first and chickens later. One step at a time. It's difficult and I don't know if there is an answer.

Pandas are such a special case, you're absolutely right. I was shocked when I first heard a conservationist call for letting pandas go extinct, but then I thought about all the good those millions of dollars could do for animals that still have a chance of maintaining a wild population. It makes absolute sense.

I admit I am a bit sentimental and the thought of letting a species simply die out because of us really upsets me, but I think it is just sentimentality. Tough questions, thank you!

dfs144 karma

What is your favorite photograph that you've taken?

P7uen7 karma

I thought someone might ask... I really don't know! There's a particular photo of a rescued elephant called Boon Thong which is a slightly blurry, terribly noisy long exposure at Boon Lott's Elephant sanctuary. I hold this up as an example of how to capture the feel of a place, as I think it really shows how much care they give their elephants and what it's like to be there. http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Animals/Bles/i-PbcW7qk

There's also a photo of a bear called Shamrock that was rescued in China a few years ago that really summed up that experience and is very close to my heart. She was still in her bile cage and was dirty and bloody, but you can see the determination in her eyes. Bears are very special. http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Animals/Animals-Asia-Rescue-2013/i-mr7Lvqn

TravelandFoodBear4 karma

Have you witnessed some negative side affects on the relationship between villagers and animals, like elephants, because of the heavy expansion of palm oil plantations and illegal mines? From what i saw in malasyia and thailand, and indonesia, large parts of former forests are now palm oil plantations ( monocultures ), which interfere with elephant traveling routes and hunting grounds of big cats.

P7uen3 karma

Yes, this is a huge problem, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia as you mentioned. I drove for hours though palm oil plantations in Sumatra to get to an elephant camp on a research trip looking at a charity called VESSWIC, who were providing veterinary care for the elephants.

The forest is destroyed, so there is more human-elephant conflict as they go into the villages to find food, so the humans kill or capture them. In Sumatra the elephants are used as patrols to scare off wild elephants from the villages, but I'm not sure how effective this is, or if it is sometimes used as an excuse to capture more elephants to start up a camp. So there will be more captive patrol elephants than wild elephants... Such a complicated situation.

Certainly, hitting the limit of the protect forest after hours of palm oil plantations was incredible, the sheer noise buzzing from the huge wall of forest compared to the perfectly planted palm trees was shocking.

I've written specifically about palm oil below, I really just thought it was one more thing on the list of things I shouldn't eat, until I saw it for myself: http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Blog/The-Reality-of-Palm-Oil

azidoazide3 karma

Thanks for doing amazing work to help out the environment! A couple questions: 1) What advice would you give to aspiring wildlife photographers? 2) What's your favorite kind of animal to photograph?

P7uen4 karma

Let's see, advice would firstly be that the animals come first, your photos come second. I've seen many people for whom getting the shot is more important than the animal's welfare, and people who have even interfered with vet procedures to take a photo or used flash in a nocturnal animals eyes which potentially would blind them for minutes or hours. Even if you don't care, the people around you will and you will not be trusted in future. Even if the animal is just getting a little stressed, stop. Second really important advice would be to not look at what anyone else is doing and just focus on what you are doing. It's so easy to get disheartened looking at what other people are doing, especially as someone else asked previously, where everyone and their dog is a photographer. Ignore them and don't give up!

Favourite animal to photograph... I really don't know! I work a lot with bears and elephants for some reason, and I really do love bears and the endless expressions they have. I really love photographing dogs though, it's a challenge and every dog is different, you have to learn what they respond to and 'get' their behaviour quickly. Plus your idea of a good photo of someone's dog might not be their idea of their dog's personality, so it's a challenge getting that right. For any budding wildlife photographers, practising on dogs is probably really good advice too!

cherrytree233 karma

Can I come and work with you please? In all seriousness... I am a photographer (conservation) and need some (more) experience..! Conservation photography seems like the hardest job to get into. (good life choices here).

P7uen3 karma

yes it's not the most obvious job I suppose... I was listening to British comedian Richard Herring the other day, he said "financial instability is so hot right now!" But honestly if you love it then it will be more rewarding than anything else.

I recommend being yourself, never compromising on your ideals or morals or ethics, and contacting everyone within whatever distance you can get to and keeping on at it. I feel you don't really need to get into it per se, you can just put yourself out there nowadays, because Internet.

Do send me some of your work though I'd love to see it!

cherrytree232 karma

Thanks for replying! I'm frequently told by my parents that it's a terrible idea and I need to get a job with a "career" but that sounds boring! I'm working on some stuff on the Welsh coast at the moment and when that's all finished I'll send it over to you! (End of August!) In the mean time I'm going to badger some charities that might want my work. Money for it is a long way off though I think!

P7uen2 karma

Well, that's what parents are for, mine were the same!

I would agree with them in 1 important way, which is to make sure you have qualifications and/or a backup plan. Then you can really dive head first into your passion and give it a good go. Money will come later, go and listen to that old Alan Watts lecture on money and passion, very inspiring. That's exactly what I've modelled my life on. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSyHWMdH9gk

abhishek4evr3 karma

Have you ever been to India for any wildlife conservation related activity ?

P7uen2 karma

Not yet! I have worked with Free the Bears who in turn work closely with Wildlife SOS. They do fantastic work throughout India so I'm working on getting over there in the next year or two.

HiIamNesan3 karma

What do you hate about your job or wish was better?

P7uen5 karma

I genuinely hate that there is a need for me to do this at all. These animals all have an amazing life and are cared for so well by these charities, but none of them should be there. They should be in their natural habitats and should never have needed to be rescued.

Aside from that, on a practical level, there's not much to hate about it. I don't enjoy documenting cruelty cases, it is very upsetting and also a bit worrying that you become desensitised to it after a while.

I am very aware that there are so few people in the world that are lucky enough to really do what they love, so I am thankful for every single moment of it!

GelbeSterne3 karma

What made you decide you wanted to do wildlife rescue photography?

P7uen5 karma

I really just decided to do what makes me happy one day, which was animals and photos, and the rest kind of happened by accident.

I just kept finding places to go and taking photos and never stopped! I do believe if you have enthusiasm for something then you can do it.

kyzer__soze3 karma

Can you show you best picture?

P7uen4 karma

I just answered above, but I'll give you a bonus photo that's one of my favourites too. This cheetah is not really relevant to what I do now as I haven't been back to Africa and there is not much need for photographers there (they already have plenty!). But this is the photo that made me think that I could really achieve this dream of working with animals, so it is special to me. http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Animals/animal-portfolio/i-cGNsHqt

p.s. my portfolio is comically out of date because all my time is spent on charity work, the essays and social media, so check Facebook for my latest photos!

SalmonBloodFarts3 karma

Just read through the front of your site. While I can appreciate wanting to donate everything to the charities you're working for, wouldn't you be better off working on selling some of your work for profit, be it through fine art print sales, art gallery displays, commissions, even stock photos or commercial licensing or whatever it may be? This would allow you to fund more work for other projects and also make a living. I can appreciate how hard photography is to make a living with as I am a professional photographer(though mainly portraits), I just think you might be pigeon holing yourself by not trying to market yourself on a larger scale and then use any success you may have for the great causes you cherish.

P7uen3 karma

I understand your logic, but it comes from the starting point that money or success (=popularity?) is the goal. Helping animals is the goal. The next step of that would really see me going back to my old corporate career and just donating my salary to the charities.

The organisations I work with need money certainly, but they also need the services I provide (if they didn't, I wouldn't be doing it!). If I donate $500 dollars to them instead of covering a rescue, for example, they would... hire a photographer to cover the rescue, or go without.

However, having live, good quality coverage of a rescue provides far more in donations than I ever could as an individual. They can't put a number on those donations or the awareness as you'll never know accurately, but looking at it another way, you can't put a price on it either, and the charities certainly recognise that.

SalmonBloodFarts3 karma

Maybe I wasn't clear. If you could make some money of the work you are producing, you could use that to find more of your own shoots for charities in need. They would obviously receive the images as well and also some added recognition. I was not starting out with the premise that money is the goal but that if you could make some you could provide more of your work to other projects in need. As is often the case, money is for any well intentioned charity project

P7uen1 karma

That's true, but I'm certain I could earn more from my previous career than anything I could earn from photography, so they would simply lose that aspect or have to buy it from elsewhere.

I do work with them to provide all sorts of extra money, from photo tours to auctioning and selling prints. They are sold for profit, I just don't keep it. It's not as much as it could be, but it never is! :)

Money can't buy everything, sometimes what a charity needs is for someone to bring them something from abroad or provide a contact they don't have.

We all do what we can, and there are only so many hours in the day, so having to choose more coverage over more money, I choose coverage.

jjharryk3 karma

Do you think there is a level of discrimination with respect to how humans value certain animals over others? We like bears, wildcats, exotic reptiles, etc, yet things like plants, insects and other 'unseen' wildlife is forgotten. What are you thoughts on this?

P7uen5 karma

Absolutely, there was a similar question below, or above, or somewhere, which I responded to. I don't think it's solvable, we're programmed to like cute cuddly things so it wont go away. We just have to try our best to make people realise everything is worth saving.

Plants in particular is an interesting one. I'm not very interested in plants at all, but I thank the gods that other people are or we'd all be dead!

NorbitGorbit2 karma

what are camera issues in the humidity/temperature of that zone?

P7uen6 karma

I was in the Mondulkiri province of Cambodia last week at a lovely elephant sanctuary called the Mondulkiri Project. It was very humid and it's also wet season, so big storms every afternoon. I just about survived unscathed again but one of the charities with me got water in their lens, which is not recommended...

Touch wood I still have yet to have a mouldy camera lens or anything, the biggest problems for me are mainly the dust, mud and animal teeth/claws marks.

And to anyone in Asia, make sure you don't go outside after being in air conditioning (including cars) as you'll be fogged up for a good few minutes before you can take some shots!

Dessel2 karma

Hi Peter,

Thanks for doing this AMA.

I currently shoot wildlife as a hobby. It's funny that you're doing this AMA, as I was just before speaking to my Mum and my sister about how I'm tired of working for a corporate business and I want to go back out to South East Asia to take photos and document and try and do some real good out there.

If you don't mind me asking, what kind of capital did you have as a start up? Do the charities generally have space to put you up? How do you go about work visas? Are these provided by the charities also? Or is this something you have to sort by yourself?

Thanks again. It's truly wonderful and inspiring work you're doing.

P7uen3 karma

Hi! Fantastic, do it!

I continued working and spent all of my time and money in working for these charities for many years. No 'capital' per se, no start up either! I simply did it because I loved it, and money was never an issue. In the sense that I didn't care about it and was lucky it kind of worked out, not in the sense that I actually had any.

Accommodation, visas etc, all those logistics really depend on the place, if they have volunteer programme then they may be able to put you up. Sometimes I have to do everything myself, sometimes it will be done for me, really depends. There are huge global charities and tiny new charities with no resources at all (which are the best ones to help of course, as they need it more).

I would recommend that you don't wait and just start close to home, find charities in your area you can help, and go from there. No time like the present!

Fupup2 karma

I love that you are fulfilling your dreams and helping the wildlife at the same time. Thank you for trying to make this Earth a better place! I am amazed at the compassion and love that elephants seem to have for their families, and I was really upset to learn about people auctioning off the "right" to kill one of the old, bull elephants. Can you speak about this type of situation? So many hunters defended the auction by saying it needed to be culled, which I don't understand how humans can say that wildlife populations have to be managed by humans, even though for thousands of years the wildlife have managed themselves.

P7uen3 karma

It's really difficult for me to comment on this, because I just cannot fathom why someone would want to kill an animal so much that they would bid on it and for prestige. Call me a namby-pamby liberal but this idea is so alien to me and to a lot of people. Hunting for food I can comprehend, hunting for fun, I can't.

Population management is also a strange idea to me. I spoke to a vet this year who owned a farm and breeds owls. He said he had to kill over 100 per year because there were too many. The solution seemed to be not to breed them, but he didn't agree.

Wildlife population management, again I don't think there is a real need, this year alone there has been the fox hunting and badger cull debates in the UK, both of which have come down on the side of not-needlessly-killing-things. I guess that is something...

akiva232 karma

How'd you get started? I usually shoot a lot of labdscapes which inevitably leads to a few wildlife shots even though they aren't my main focus. I'm not a professional but it would be nice if i one day follow my passion. It would sure as heck be more fulfilling than my current gig. I feel your pain on hiking with all the extra gear though. Every pound makes a difference.

P7uen2 karma

Start following your passion today! It won't happen overnight, so just start today and keep going until you get to where you want to be. There's an old Chinese saying... the best time to plant a camera... is yesterday? Yes I think that's it.

Focus on what you love, if it's wildlife or landscapes or portraits, that's how you will really get your style and get noticed. I find that people saying they do all photography is a bit like someone saying "I'm an artist" and doing paintings, sculptures, pencil drawings, etc. Maybe they're just more talented than me :) but that's the way I see it. My landscapes aren't worth a damn, partly because I'm not that interested (and partly of course because I don't have an eye for them!)

Poco5852 karma

What on Earth is a pangolin?

P7uen2 karma

https://www.facebook.com/PeterYuenPhotography/photos/pb.181649185303440.-2207520000.1437944410./622526371215717/?type=3&theater

Pangolins are AMAZING I love them to bits. They are sadly one of the most trafficked and endangered species in Asia at the moment because people think their scales are magic.

You can see a mother and pangopup in that photo. Yes they are really called that!

mariathecrow2 karma

Pangolins are one of my favorite animals, I've always wanted to actually see one in person. I remember I had this nat geo vhs special about the okovango (spelling?) delta in Africa as a kid and the pangolin part was my absolute favorite. I didn't learn about the illegal scale trade until years later and I've always hated it.

P7uen2 karma

They are amazing, I'd love to meet the African ones as they look even cooler than the Asian species. Maybe soon!

pepperman72 karma

I'm wondering if you have an opinion on Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand ? I regularly recommend the place to any friends visiting that area and personally found the monks to show great appreciation and care for the animals. Youtube videos I have found seem to hold the temple in very low regard though and I'm curious if they are more factual or propaganda?

P7uen4 karma

I have not visited the tigers temples, and as far as I know it's been closed down.

I can tell you what I've heard, which is that the tigers are drugged and kept in awful conditions. Certainly, there is a tiger on a chain sitting with tourists all day, it's not what a tiger would want to do, given a choice. If it's doing it and has no choice, that's being forced, obviously, and indeed why else would they need a chain? Even my dog wouldn't sit still for that long being petted without getting annoyed.

Some say they are not drugged, simply 'trained'. There is not a bone in my body that believes you can train a tiger to sit there all day long being aggravated by tourists, without instilling fear in it. Not positive reinforcement, but beatings and pain. Organisations had asked to inspect the tiger temples, and to take blood/hair samples to see if they were drugged, but they were denied.

I do not judge anyone that goes there, as I've said before I have done lots of tourist things in my life that I am now utterly ashamed of. I just try and educate people without judging, and I believe that's all it takes, that's all it took for me, just thinking about it a while.

briv2 karma

Any advice for someone hoping to get into wildlife conservation work? I'm particularly interested in primates, but I'm not sure of the best places to start looking for things like volunteer work to use as a stepping stone. What you're doing is right along the lines of things I'd love to do more than anything!

P7uen2 karma

Keep working hard, would be the first advice, and don't ever not apply to anything because you think it's too much of a pipe-dream. Volunteering can be a good way to get some experience depending on what type of thing you're looking to get into, such as husbandry or research or similar. It's a great way to meet people too so if you can afford to volunteer and travel, then go for it. Most people in the wildlife world are really lovely if you are genuine and want to help.

Just keep googling for primate places and get in touch with them! There are many sanctuaries that have primates in Asia if you're looking out this way, although I'm not sure how many have volunteer programmes as well. You can look at the WFFT in Thailand which I know has both and does great work. Feel free to get in touch with me if you want recommendations.

Keep at it and you will figure out what it is you want to do. I kind of ended up here by accident just from keeping pushing towards my dream.

mezbomb2 karma

Are you the bastard who keeps posting pictures of red panda's that I cannot make pets of? >"."<

P7uen3 karma

http://imgur.com/pHQmlJu Keep your dirty hands off.

MCML52 karma

How can I get a job like yours?

P7uen2 karma

Try everything, singing, drawing, photography, whatever you can. Find out what you love doing. Start doing it asap! You don't have to wait for a job opening in Opera Singing to come up, you just need to do it and practise more and more, make it happen for yourself :)

lady_killller2 karma

Your photographs are awesome, I'm extremely jealous of your talent! How do you get to do work like this? Has this sprung from a hobby or have you done a degree?

P7uen4 karma

Thank you so much, but half of it is luck and being in the right place!

It's really just passion and perseverance. Yes it started out as a hobby and kind of went from there, I've never had any training in photography. I teach photography and run tours, and I only teach as much about the camera as they need to stop it being a barrier to getting the shots they want.

I am far less interested in cameras and lenses and far more interested in photographs!

MySilverWhining2 karma

How do you think the cause of animal rescue interacts with conservation and larger environmental concerns such as global warming? I like that it emotionally engages people who don't yet have an intellectual connection with the environment, but at the same time, I feel like it pulls already sympathetic people even closer while further alienating people who are skeptical or on the fence. Many people are alienated from environmental issues by the perception that environmentalism is driven by a wasteful and sentimental concern for animals in defiance of common sense and at the expense of human interests. Seeing the extraordinary logistics and expense that go into saving a single bear or a single elephant, effort that could arguably accomplish much more if it were not guided by the entertainment values of charismatic megafauna and relatable narrative, does feed that perception. Do you think wildlife rescue is a net positive or a net negative in its effect on global environmental issues?

P7uen2 karma

This is a great question, I absolutely believe it's a net positive.

I hate the Buzzfeed-style media that is coming up now, and I really don't like that a lot of charities have taken up this technique. I think it cheapens a lot of the stories and work out there, and I'd like to think all you have to do is get people aware of the issues and they will care, not trick them into clicking it and using sensationalist language... maybe I'm old fashioned.

But I think caring about welfare issues is a gateway drug, so to speak, as long as they don't separate the events with the underlying causes. I found a little newborn cat outside my house 1 weeks ago and I was so caught up with it that I forgot to mention the real issue, which is that supporting spaying and neutering at your local charity will help this welfare issue go away (luckily a commented mentioned it).

I said elsewhere that I'm not very interested in flora (but I'm glad other people are), but I really changed my mind last year. Seeing the orangutans and elephants in trouble in Indonesia really changed the way I think about the forest and in particular the use of palm oil, which went from "thing people keep harassing me about on the Internet" to "really serious ecological problem". It was the stories of the animals, which I care more about, which helped me realise how important the underlying issues are. As long as we present them in the right way, I think it helps tremendously.

Sad polar bear, not so good. Telling people to cycle to work, not very effective. Sad polar bear which you can help by cutting down your emissions, I think that's a step forward.

felifae2 karma

Right now I'm interning at a wildlife rehabilitation center and it has been an amazing experience. I hope to get involved with some sort of conservation or research work in the future.

What's one small thing us normal folk can do to help spread conservation awareness?

P7uen3 karma

Happy cake day!

You're the second person that doesn't class me as a normal person.. time to start getting worried...

In one sense, awareness is what you do when you can't donate. Charities simply need money and all the Facebook likes in the world won't generate enough money to build a bear house. But in another sense, it really, really does help. So spreading awareness and championing those causes that you're interested in is really needed.

For the animals directly, I think just to educate your friends and people you meet about what they are facing. I never judge or criticise and I am always very careful about my tone, because as I mentioned elsewhere, I've done plenty of terrible tourist things in my previous life that I'm ashamed of. All it needs it a recommendation not to ride an elephant, an explanation why they shouldn't take a photo with a slow loris in Thailand, a link to show them why not, that's all. That's what I think can help.

p.s. What rescue centre? Share the love!

untide2 karma

Why did you do it?

P7uen2 karma

I was so preoccupied with whether or not I could, I didn't stop to think if I should.

gergammus2 karma

Thanks for all of your work and dedication; wildlife certainly needs it. I'm currently at school for Wildlife Biology and Captive Wildlife Care/Education so I can play the role both as a scientist and an educator, so hopefully I can be like you someday and have a very strong positive outreach for protecting animals.

My question for you; Have you ever witnessed illegal wildlife trade? If so, what happens? Does anyone do anything about it (I noticed you mentioned raids), or does the illegal trade just continue without much of an issue?

Thanks for the time!

P7uen2 karma

Thank you! That's great that you're studying this stuff, I have had to learn on the job but it's so important to know about wildlife in order to work in the field, even just as a photographer.

I have seen animals for sale in markets and kept as pets or having been rescued, but wildlife laws are different in every country. In Cambodia, for example, they have both the laws and the power to enforce it, when (or more importantly if) it is reported. The offenders will usually get a fine, but this isn't always enough to stop them, since they may be able to return to the forest and keep poaching. In other countries such as Laos, there isn't really much in the way of law or enforcement, so it continues unabated. In Thailand it is illegal to smuggle wildlife in the country, but not illegal to sell it once it's in, so as long as you don't get caught at the border (or pay a 'fine' to a friendly border guard) you're ok. In Vietnam I'm told it's legal for the government to sell wildlife after it has been 'rescued' by them.

It's heartbreaking to see the state some of these animals are in, this year there was a box of sugar gliders confiscated from a trader, probably about 70 of them in a box. They were rescued by Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia, and were destined to Thailand and then probably to the West to be sold as cute pets.

Not a good state of affairs, then, but the positive thing that is It is getting better thanks to all these organisations like TRAFFIC helping to push for laws and providing training to enforcement teams, and to sanctuaries for giving them a place to live.

Ranal___Ape2 karma

What do you think about that plan to introduce fake rhino horns to the market and undercut the real horns? Do you think it will be effective in stopping poaching?

P7uen3 karma

I'm no expert, but much smarter people than I have expressed a lot of disappointment of this idea. I understand the logic behind it, but there are 2 main problems that I'm aware of.

Firstly, there is, for example, synthetic UDCA, the active ingredient in bear bile that has medicinal uses. This has not stopped people buying the more expensive real bear bile from bear farms (mainly in China and Vietnam), because it's from bears, and therefore magic (maybe the extra pus and bacteria make it better?). So having an alternative will not necessarily stop people from asking for the "real" rhino horn.

Secondly, unlike bear bile above, which has a real use and is now being synthesised meaning bears no longer have to suffer, rhino horn has no medicinal properties. Flooding the market with rhino horn in no way addresses the root of the problem of such alternative medicines, which is that they are not real.

AggresivePickle2 karma

This may not be the right question for you, but, how to you become involved in wildlife rescue? I'm really interested in animals, and I want a career in working with them.

P7uen2 karma

I think I've answered this elsewhere, but basically choose what you're passionate about and just keep at it. There are so many ways to work with animals and welfare and conservation are not lucrative, so you really need passion! Keep contacting everyone you can, start locally and keep at it.

nharrah2 karma

Have there ever been any deadly encounters or close calls?

P7uen3 karma

You always need to be on your toes when you're around wild animals, but nothing awful has happened more than cuts and bruises. As I mentioned elsewhere, if an animal charges or swipes at me then it's time to stop or call a time out, as they're not happy about it.

My gear gets more beaten up than I do, lens hoods getting bitten and scratched. A gibbon once repeatedly smashed my camera against a fence and then dropped it on concrete, luckily I managed to catch it.

Never trust gibbons.

Superbugged1 karma

Did you ever have to save Homo sapiens-touristus and conserve them from the wildlife? (serious question!)

P7uen6 karma

Well, on a recent rescue there was a pressphotographus-stupidus who shall remain nameless. Photographers tend to be a competitive bunch, something to do with them being worried if the world realises that all they do is click a button then we'll all be out of a job, I'm not sure.

Anyway, he may have been a wonderful photographer but he had obviously never worked with wildlife before. He decided the best way to photograph a stressed bear in a 2x2m cage which is effectively backed into a corner, was to put his lens through the bars, and then his arm through the other bars so that he could focus.

I pulled him away the second he did it, and he was very angry, complaining that I made him miss his shot. He wasn't left alone again, and it didn't seem to cross his mind that I stopped his arm getting chomped off.

dcikid121 karma

Why are you awesome and how I do what you do?

P7uen1 karma

Why are you awesome and how do I do what you do?

What's your passion?

hookahbeard1 karma

Hi Peter!! I've been going through your work for a while now, and I have always found it incredibly touching. You are a talented individual and the work you do is nothing short of admirable!

Is there a way one of us could contact you to volunteer alongside you? Your story and your work is sort of an inspiration to me.

P7uen2 karma

Hi! Thank you so much that is very kind of you, I really appreciate it. Two people have referred to "normal people" in this AMA, so I really hope people do realise that everyone can do their dream job if they just work hard at it.

You're always welcome to get in touch and we can see what happens, I can't really take people on rescues as they're quite dangerous and sensitive situations, but I do photo tours and I do travel a lot as well so you never know!

jjharryk1 karma

Keeping on the subject of 'wildlife', would you ever consider branching into homo sapiens as subjects of your photography? After all, there are humans in the world that are in need of rescue - whether it is refugee camps, human trafficking, homeless shelters, etc...what do you think about doing these kinds of shots?

P7uen2 karma

I think the people who focus on humans are amazing. Living in Cambodia, I do often see things that put my life in perspective. Why am I working so hard for animals when there are humans in such dire conditions within a stone's throw from me?

It's a common criticism of animal conservation in general and I always give the same answer: people help how they want to help. I love animals and I wouldn't have given up my old career to help humans or climate change or any of the other wonderful causes out there, just because I'm not as interested in them. I'm so glad that other people are interested in them though! I also think watching human suffering could be more painful than watching animal suffering, I really respect those who work to cover such difficult stories.

There's also the point that people do often say "why don't you help humans instead, they're more important". Well why not help children instead of adults, and sick children who are more in need. Actually, sick orphaned children, starving sick orphaned children, and so on. If there is only one cause that is 'allowed' to be so important everyone should only be helping that, then everything else would be screwed. The world doesn't work that way, we all help how we can, and it all evens out.

metz2021 karma

Every 19 year old girl with a smartphone is a photographer. What makes you any different?

P7uen3 karma

Mainly the sex organs, but there are other differences.

I was on a dolphin spotting trip in Hong Kong a few years back with a number of other photographers with big bazooka zoom lenses and such. A dolphin surfaced right at the front of the boat, about 1m away, and this little girl perhaps 8 years old, sitting against the railing with her mum's iPhone just turned round with her eyes wide open. Best photo of the day by a mile.

bennyschup1 karma

What is your favorite picture you have ever taken? Or at least top 3

P7uen2 karma

I think I've answered that elsewhere a couple of times, it's really difficult to decide. This rescued elephant is certainly another one I didn't mention before that I do love: https://www.facebook.com/PeterYuenPhotography/photos/pb.181649185303440.-2207520000.1437985725./561527733982248/?type=3&theater

would_bang_out_of_101 karma

How long did you have to wait in one place to get what you believe is your best photograph?

P7uen2 karma

About 1/200th of a second...

No I really don't have a particular favourite photograph, but the work that goes into getting to the places you need to be, with the people you need to be with, then having the luck of it all going right, takes a lot of work, and months or years or work for the charities.

I waited 1 year to get photos of rescued bears in China, returning 12 months after they were rescued to get before and after shots of them and how their lives had changed (a lot!). http://www.peteryuenphotography.com/Blog/Animals-Asia-Rescue-Anniversar/n-6KgGk

But more specifically for nocturnal animals there is usually a long wait, and it has to be in darkness and silence (and is usually hot and humid). Last time I photographed pangolins at Save Vietnam's Wildlife, I sat in silence in the dark for about 6 hours before they started to come out of their dens. So exciting...

PoshByDefault1 karma

Can you tell us anymore about tigers? :) Please?

P7uen3 karma

I don't know much about tigers actually, apart from that they are cool and I'm pretty scared of them. Wildlife Alliance have some rescued tigers in Cambodia that are beautiful, and silent! I was once trying to get some shots but couldn't find him, and I suddenly saw him creeping up the side of his enclosure right next to me. Jumped out of my skin.

There are most likely no wild tigers left in Cambodia anymore, but I need to get over to India soon and find some in the National Parks, would be amazing!

LeonardHenrick1 karma

Do you have a favorite photo or story behind a photo?

P7uen1 karma

I think I answered this elsewhere as well, but my favourite story is Blue the sun bear (forgive the quality, I am a photographer not a videographer!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgsBEyab-fU

Chief_Tallbong1 karma

Hello friend. You're doing exactly what I hope to do with my life. Did you go to school for photography? Where did you acquire your skills other than practice?

Thank you for doing good in the world with your passion, and living my dream for me.

P7uen2 karma

I'm not living your dream, you need to get out there and start doing it yourself!

I studied science, maths, computer stuff, I didn't even have a camera until 5 or 6 years ago, just learned what I needed to along the way.

I don't believe formal study is necessary, just a lot of practise and hard work. If that's what you want to do then just start today and you can do it!

Sebbylon1 karma

Props to you! What's your daytime job?

P7uen2 karma

My daytime job is Redditing!

Actually there is a lot of work that goes on to arrange the rescues and the trips to see the charities, and sorting and processing thousands of photos from a week-long shoot takes weeks as well. I should probably spend that time marketing myself but I'm really bad at that and don't enjoy it.

I also run photo tours to sanctuaries around Asia (although at least half the money goes back to the charities) and teach photography as well, which I've started this year because I realised I need to eat food...

forthelulzac1 karma

Where does your money come from? Who pays for you to travel around taking photos?

P7uen1 karma

My photography, website, storage, and trips are covered by crowd-funding (www.patreon.com/peteryuenphotography) which is an amazing thing to happen, and I hope those people know just how appreciated they are by myself and the charities.

If the costs are not covered sometimes the charities will put me up in accommodation or what have you, depending on the situation and how often/for how long I'm needed. Most charities just simply don't have a budget for such a thing, so crowd-funding is a godsend.

xaxaxaxa4u1 karma

Did you watch the movie 3 idiots ?

P7uen4 karma

Can we keep all movie questions to be about Rampart, please?

BearPoopnInTheWoods1 karma

I am also a wildlife photographer so I'm curious -- as someone in a position to provide similar services, what's the best way to pick charities to give away your work to?

P7uen1 karma

It's interesting to hear it phrased like that, because I don't consider it giving away my work, to me that is the work. It's really a different mindset and I am regularly admonished for committing the sin of 'working for free'. It's really not that way at all, they don't need watermarked low-quality versions of the photos and up to 10 high quality prints if credited in size 14 font, etc. They just need photos, they're busy trying to save animals!

Sorry, I know you didn't even intend that! :) The best way is simply to visit them and see if you like what you see, if you feel like you can get behind the work they do, go for it!

billyandrewsy1 karma

  1. Have you been to the Philippines?
  2. Does the job pay well (now)?
  3. Can photo enthusiasts (like me) join these shoots (even for free); if so, how?

The shots are amazing by the way! :)

P7uen1 karma

  1. Yes but not for any charity work. Fingers crossed for some good news for Mali the elephant so I have an excuse to go over :)

  2. Well, the job doesn't pay at all! I am funded via crowdfunding which now covers most of my travel, but I still need to earn money through teaching and photo tours to make money. You can help if you would like, by pledging or just sharing the link! www.patreon.com/peteryuenphotography.com

  3. I run photo tours for people to join which are paid with half the money going to the charities. But there is plenty of wildlife near you, at least birds and pets, and probably dog and cat shelters too. Go out and shoot!

Travv1 karma

Is it easier doing wildlife rescue photography vs regular wildlife photography?

What are some good photography tips for people with not as nice equipment but still want to get some great shots of animals?

P7uen2 karma

Well as I mentioned above somewhere, all my lenses are 3rd party (and falling apart) so out of everyone with a camera that you know, I'm willing to bet Reddit Gold that I'm in the bottom 50% in the nice equipment rankings!

The quality really doesn't matter to me, I want photos that make you feel something. You can take a 20MP photo with a Canon L lens, but people are looking at it on in a tiny browser on Facebook on their work laptop screen, it doesn't matter.

I'd recommend if you don't have a zoom, around 200mm, then find someone to borrow it from, and get out there and shoot. Think about why you like the ones you like, and why you don't like the ones you delete, and then get back out there!

P7uen2 karma

I just realised I didn't answer your first question, I think I was half asleep!

For shooting in sanctuaries, in some ways it's easier, for many of the animals you don't really have to wait as long to see them as you would in the wild, and there is a very high chance of seeing them (but not 100%). People do seem to think it's like shooting in zoos, but it's not. Any sanctuary worth its salt will make sure the animals have places to hide when they do not want to be seen (so that they are not too stressed), which is almost all the time!

In other ways its harder, to get a shot without showing any of the man-mad structure or such so as not to distract from the shot. Shooting on rescues is pretty challenging, in a good way. It really just takes a lot of experience and respect for the people doing their jobs and the animals being rescued.

timonsmith1 karma

Which country, of the ones you've visited, is best and worst in terms of protection of wildlife? How?

Ever worked in India? How was it?

P7uen2 karma

I haven't worked in India yet but I do want to get out and work with Wildlife SOS, who do fantastic work.

Many countries in this part of the world simply have no protection. Those that have laws still have no enforcement, and rarely countries like Cambodia are lucky to have both. But with huge porous borders it's impossible to stop poaching and smuggling, and protect the forests well enough.

danielmilutin1 karma

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

P7uen4 karma

I don't understand the question, you mean there are people who actually prefer cats over dogs?! Who would do that?

Mzilikazi811 karma

Would you rather fight 1 Sumatran rhino-sized duck or 100 duck-sized Sumatran rhinos?

P7uen3 karma

There are probably less than 100 left in the wild now, so I would have to choose 100 duck-sized Sumatran rhinos. Even if they killed me, in time they could be selectively bred to standard size, saving the species, and I would have a duck-sized statue of myself outside a zoo somewhere.

Thatonejoblady1 karma

How would a normal person get to where you are? Like what would tou reccomend one do?

P7uen2 karma

Well I would like to think I am a normal person, but aside from that, I would say just keep doing what you love. Whatever it is, shooting, writing, singing, whatever, you do that and don't change it for anyone, and if just one person likes it you will feel like a million bucks!

So if it's photography you like, just keep shooting, keep sending out emails to everyone and don't give up for as long as you love it!

nightfalls71 karma

what place out of all the places youve been too would you say is the most beautiful one and would recommend visiting?

P7uen1 karma

Oh I don't know, in terms of sanctuaries then I think Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand would have to be the most idyllic, it really defines the word 'sanctuary' www.blesele.org

jjharryk1 karma

Remember that monkey that took a selfie using the photog's camera? And that photo got out into the general public...do you think things like this are public domain or are the strict property of the photog?

P7uen2 karma

I think the situation is hilarious, I can't imagine being upset about that! Perhaps he was upset that his most famous photo wasn't even taken by him? Everyone agrees that it's whoever pressed the button that owns the rights, I'm sure if he took a photo on a friends camera he would not give the rights to his friend, so... live by the shutter, die by the shutter.

hasherslasher891 karma

Hi what advice would you give to a young photographer that has similar interests?

P7uen1 karma

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuHfVn_cfHU

Seriously, get out there and shoot, and don't be afraid of rejection!

WalkingTurtleMan1 karma

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm under the impression that most Chinese people don't care about the environment. I'm sure they worry a lot about air quality and water pollution and other public health concerns, but I'm not so sure they care about their effects on the environment through littering and other less obvious problems.

How is your work received by Chinese and other Asian countries? Do you feel that your photography helps the people closest to your subject understand their effects on wildlife and the ecosystem?

P7uen1 karma

I think there are as many problems in the East as there are in the West. In the UK this year there have been the fox hunting and badger cull issues, as well as circus animals debate. In the US hunting, hunting, hunting. In the Faroe Isles right now there is a mass whale slaughter going on, it's everywhere.

I think it's all down to education. What percentage of people in China or here in Cambodia get a school education compared to the UK or US? My work in China has mostly been with Animals Asia, which is almost all Chinese staff and they are doing absolutely incredible work. The photos and stories are received with enthusiasm in this new generation of young people with good education and with access to the Internet and the world at large.

Some local people in small villages for example, they know their forest so well. They know which leaves are which and which fruits can be eaten, and they know all too well the consequences of over-use. Many people simply have no choice if they want their family to survive, so wherever there are outsiders coming in educating people about the problems, they should also be providing alternatives.

I have definitely found that the best and most forward-thinking charities are those run by people from their own country, like Save Vietnam's Wildlife or the Mondulkiri Project in Cambodia.

meatsalad_yumiyumi1 karma

Are there any charities and sanctuaries that you've worked with that you'd like to recommend to tourists?

P7uen1 karma

Far too many to count! In Thailand there is Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary and the WFFT, in Cambodia there is Free the Bears, Wildlife Alliance, the Mondulkiri Project, in China Animals Asia do incredible work, in Vietnam Save Vietnam's Wildlife, the Turtle Conservation Centre, Animals Asia and Free the Bears again... I'm sure I've forgotten loads of them. There are plenty more on my website and I'm sure plenty more around where you live probably quietly getting on with amazing work!

iamkerish1 karma

What made you to do an AMA???

P7uen2 karma

I really, really like talking about this stuff! (it's 2am here and I'm not bored yet...)

The more people see my work (and support it!) the more I can help these charities and the more people get made aware of the incredible work they do. One Redditor just mentioned they will not go on an elephant ride because they followed a link to one of the sanctuaries. That alone has made it worth the AMA!

sweet_as_cunt0 karma

What's your favorite type of sammich?

P7uen3 karma

Grilled cheese in the George Foreman, butter the bread on both sides.

Lycanthropes0 karma

Why do they blur the genitals in movies?

P7uen2 karma

You're not watching the right movies.