There’s the old saying that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Photographer Martin Yelland incorporated this idea in capturing images of wildlife, and it was as amusing as it was successful. While on a snorkeling trip at Skomer Island off the coast of West Wales, he donned a decoy puffin on his head while approaching the real birds swimming nearby—and it worked! Yelland attracted the curiosity of the puffins, resulting in fascinating photos that simultaneously feature a viewpoint in and out of the water.
In addition to a puffin decoy attached to his head, Yelland had more decoys that could move freely throughout the waters. “We were told to move the decoys about,” Yelland explained, “and this is what drew the puffins close by. It was one of the best things I have ever done.” The “magical encounter” highlights Skomer Island, known for its puffin colony. In 2015, there were over 20,000 individual birds within the 1.1-square-mile nature reserve.
Yelland has always had a special bond with the water. “I used to do lots of surf photography and released my own UK bodyboard DVD in 2008,” he tells My Modern Met, “before discovering a passion for wildlife on a surf trip that went flat, back in 2016.”
Yelland’s wildlife photography has led the way to other work about animals. He and his wife, Zoë-Elissa George Yelland, write children’s books based on the photographer’s pictures. He is the author and Zoë is the illustrator. The books are available to purchase on their website, Chough Rock Books.