Alumni

Ryan Atkinson, Photographer, Freelance

Work hard. Always say yes. Keep your head down. And NEVER think that you’ve learned everything. Having a filmmaking degree doesn’t mean you’re graduating as a cinematographer. You still have to start at the bottom of the industry as a runner.


Ryan Atkinson photo alumni Ryan Atkinson has done incredible things in the five years since graduating. An experienced photographer he knew he wanted to work in the creative media industry and studying a broad range of subjects helped him choose his career path.

Today Ryan is one of the men behind major wildlife documentaries such as Planet Earth, The Hunt and Lost Worlds. Most of Ryan’s work is with the BBC Natural History unit although he is a freelance wildlife, adventure and travel cameraman.

In 2015 Ryan was short listed for the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of The Year awards. He has also spent the last 2 years working on series 2 of planet earth. This is a particular achievement for him as it was the original planet earth series that took him in the direction of natural history film making in the first place.

We asked Ryan about a typical day:

"There’s no such thing as a typical day in my role. I specialise in a variety of environments including Mountain (having run the university climbing club), Jungles and Cold Climates. I will normally wake up before first light, trek/boat/climb/ski into our filming locations, find the animals and spend the day filming them. I’ll then return to our camp which varies from a jungle hammock and bushcraft shelter, to ecolodges and basic hotels, and spend a few hours cleaning and preparing kit for the next day, reviewing footage and backing everything up. Then eat and bed, usually getting around 5 hours of sleep a night. The average job lasts around 30 days of this on repeat."

 Ryan Atkinson location filming

Ryan had some advice for people wanting follow his career path, ‘Work hard. Always say yes. Keep your head down. And NEVER think that you’ve learned everything. For wildlife work specifically, develop skills and qualifications outside of the academic world. I wouldn’t be where I am today without having attained various qualifications in mountaineering, advanced first aid, off road driving, fieldcraft and working in hostile environments. Getting plugged into university societies is a great place to start. Also, don’t try and oversell yourself. Having a filmmaking degree doesn’t mean you’re graduating as a cinematographer. You still have to start at the bottom of the industry as a runner, and trying to undercut other people and get work at a higher level will likely annoy people who will potentially employ you on the way up. That said, know your worth.’

 

Ryan spends his spare time as an operational rescue member of Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team, covering a large part of central south wales and the Brecon Beacons mountain range.