Photographer Geert Weggen has a gift for getting the most out of his portrait subjects. And he’s definitely got his work cut out for him, since his subjects of choise aren’t humans—they’re red squirrels. Animals always come with a unique set of photographic challenges, but Weggen makes it look easy with effortless images of the creatures interacting with tiny props including balloons, shopping carts, and even a makeshift bow and arrow. The resulting pictures, shot with a Nikon 810, are charming squirrel photos that showcase their curiosity and gregarious personalities.
So how does Weggen capture such delightfully candid photos? It helps to have a lot of potential portrait subjects. “There are about 12 red squirrels living in the forest close to my house,” he tells My Modern Met in an email. “Many I do not recognize anymore.” While they might be wary of Weggen at first, they soon understand that he’s the one “providing the food” and quickly warm up to him.
In addition to appealing to the squirrels’ voracious appetites, Weggen has also streamlined his setup for these pictures. “At the side of my house I made an outside studio,” he explains. “Half with a roof and the rest is open for the rain and snow. From my kitchen window, I can shoot [photos].” Weggen also built a table in his studio that’s at eye level so that he can arrange his scenes, hide the food, and inconspicuously snap pictures. The location is key, too, for making it easy for the animals to approach. “The studio is directly connected with the forest and trees,” he says. “I hide a flash behind some scenes on a remote.”
Geert Weggen captures delightfully candid squirrel photos as they interact with tiny props.