My squirrel pictures started almost by accident. I had a pumpkin sitting on my deck rail, and a squirrel came and sat on top, posing perfectly, and from there the ideas just grew. A friend suggested a tiny mailbox, so I made one, put tiny letters in it (and some peanuts) and along came the squirrel to "get his mail." That has been one of my best selling images.
All the photos are taken in my backyard on my deck. I made a little shelf on the deck railing to give more space to set up little props and backdrops. I have a couple of curious squirrels who come and inspect whatever I put out as they search for peanuts, which they have learned are hidden in my props. I can sit at my laptop in my kitchen and keep an eye on what's happening on the deck. Sometimes I may wait a day or two for the lighting and weather and squirrels to all cooperate together to get the shot I want, but now and then I barely have my props set out when they arrive, 'pose" just right, and I can get on with other ideas. I have always been a crafter, so I have lots of supplies in my basement to work with, and whenever I shop I keep my eyes open for new ideas.
I used to use a Canon 60D and usually a tripod, but I recently purchased a Canon 6D, which I hope will help with the shade on my deck, being able to get clearer shots at higher ISO. I try to avoid using a flash since it startles the squirrels, but the light is very low in the winter on my deck, and sometimes it is hard to get a clear shot.
One squirrel is featured in the most in my photos—"Mr. Peanuts." He comes down from the trees when I call "peanuts" and he will take nuts out of my hand. This year there are a couple of new younger squirrels just getting used to me, and I think they will make good models, too. These are American Red Squirrels, and they are quite small compared to the larger squirrels found in many parts of North America.
I am Canadian, live in Bedford, Nova Scotia, am almost 59 years old, and work 4 days a week as a high school guidance counsellor. Squirrel pictures decorate my office and offer a bit of humour and relaxation when students come in worried and stressed about something. I look forward to Wednesdays and weekends to work with Mr. Peanuts and friends. One of these days I will compile them all into a book, but for now I have made a couple of calendars with squirrels in themes for each of the months. Calendars or prints can be ordered by emailing me at email@example.com.
You can see all of Nancy's fantastic squirrel photos on Flickr. Definitely worth a browse if you were feeling down today! And be sure to hit Nancy up for any of these as prints or calendars! You can also purchase a couple of them at Getty Images.