As the profession of wildlife photography has developed many photographers have taken advantage of cheap air fares to travel far and wide to photograph species that do not live in their own countries. In recent years, this has given rise to discussions about whether 'conservations photographers' are doing the world any favours by traveling thousands of miles by air and therefore building up a massive carbon footprint in their quest to document the plight or success of a particular species. Whether you deem this as a necessary part of producing a compelling message or as simple hypocrisy, I don't think I know any wildlife photographer that doesn't have one or two species they would dearly like to photograph but need to travel a significant distance for but constantly traveling abroad for photography is not how most photographers start out.
There are lots of reasons for making the most of the wildlife in the immediate vicinity so I'll list as many as I can think of here. Feel free to add more in the comment below.
- Travel time is kept to a minimum (so you can get more sleep if means an early start)
- You can spend a lot of time in the field researching/shooting and as a result
- You quickly become knowledgeable of the subject and their habits
- You can react quickly to weather opportunities
- Knowing the area increases the ability to create new and original bodies of work
- You become known get to know local landowners
The last point is often overlooked but I can honestly say that without the help of local landowners, my job would be far harder. Farmers, estate managers, local park authorities all hold a wealth of knowledge when it comes to their land. Just be prepared to be refused access (to the land or information) and respect their usage of it in the first place.
So what about equipment? See my post about buying the best you can afford.