"Macro photography is complicated," admits nature photographer Tony North

Tony North
A tiger swallowtail on a lungwort flower. (Image credit: Tony North)

It’s the third week of March and the wet winter is ensuring a soggy start to spring, but that isn’t dampening Tony North’s spirits – or his initiative. “I was out early this morning doing some photography because it was cloudy and not windy, which is good for macro,” he tells me from his home near Manchester. I’m already wondering what he could have been shooting because it’s too early for many insects and flowers, but then he reveals the unexpected: “There’s not many insects about yet, but I’ve got one that I brought back from Florida – a chrysalis of a zebra swallowtail – and just recently it emerged, so I was photographing that this morning.” 

As any macro photographer knows, cool weather and early morning are the best times to photograph insects in the field as they will remain still until they have warmed up enough to move. And so it was for Tony’s new arrival from Florida. “I was out at 6.30 because it was less windy. This butterfly I was photographing is native to the southern United States, so it was probably pretty cold for it.” Not half – it certainly wasn’t March in Miami! 

Tony North headshot
Tony North

A trained psychologist and teacher, Tony North has been specializing in macro. In 2023, Tony was named the overall winner of the International Garden Photographer of the Year for his night image of blue tajinaste flowers beneath the Milky Way.  

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Keith Wilson

A former award-winning editor of Amateur Photographer magazine, Keith is the founder of Outdoor Photography, which he edited from 2000 to 2007, Black + White Photography and Wild Planet, the world’s first monthly digital magazine devoted entirely to wildlife photography. He is a highly regarded competition judge and since 2016 has chaired the jury of the Nature Photographer of the Year awards. He is the co-founder (with Britta Jaschinski) of Photographers Against Wildlife Crime™, an international group of award-winning photographers who have joined forces to use their powerful and iconic images to help bring an end to the illegal wildlife trade.