Behind the lens with Wildlife Photographer, Paul Kettel

Ep. 50 - Photo Country Podcast

Behind the lens with Wildlife Photographer, Paul Kettel

Ep. 50 - Photo Country Podcast

Capturing Nature's Essence with Paul Kettel

Welcome to Episode 51 of Photo Country, the podcast where we talk to inspiring image makers from around the world who consistently bring fresh content to life. Today, we're excited to present a conversation with an incredibly talented wildlife and landscape photographer, Paul Kettel, from Auckland, New Zealand.

Capturing the Unseen

Photo by Paul Kettel

Paul shared a fascinating story about an elusive shot he almost missed while photographing a bird preening. He explained the critical importance of timing and patience, often waiting for that perfect moment without letting his mind stray. His dedication is evident as he spends countless hours in the field, understanding bird behavior, finding the right angles, and minimizing stress on his subjects. Paul’s meticulous approach enables him to capture those fleeting, peak moments that often result in "happy accidents."

Long-Awaited Conversation

Photo by Paul Kettel

Tor Bay by Paul Kettel

Rajeev opens the conversation by expressing his excitement about finally having Paul on the show. He recalls his fascination with Paul's iconic Torbay image, which propelled him to reach out multiple times until Paul accepted the invite. Despite being shy, Paul graciously joins the podcast for an engaging discussion.

Paul's Journey into Photography

Paul traces his passion back to the early '80s, inspired by his father's SLR camera. His love for photography grew alongside his interest in surfing and windsurfing, documenting adventures and gradually evolving into a more serious pursuit. He saved diligently for a Nikon F-801S, a camera that accompanied him through New Zealand’s landscapes. Although his passion fluctuated over the years, it solidified in the last decade, becoming an integral part of his life.

Balancing Passion and Profession

Paul Kettel

Paul attempted to monetize his photography but found the balance of passion and profit difficult to maintain. The 2008 financial crisis affected his gallery sales, and he decided then to remain an amateur. His profession as an enterprise architect funds his wildlife photography, a genre notoriously heavy on equipment expenses.

Photography as Therapy

For Paul, photography is more than a hobby; it’s therapy. He feels most at peace lying in the sand with his camera, capturing birds at sunrise. Despite sometimes not taking a single photo, the experience of being outdoors and connected with nature remains invaluable.

Technical Mastery and Ethical Practice

Paul Kettel

Rajeev and Paul delve into the technical challenges and ethical practices of wildlife photography. Paul stresses the importance of field-craft, understanding light, and minimizing disturbance to his subjects. Modern equipment has eased some technical burdens, allowing Paul to focus more on capturing perfect compositions. Paul’s work is praised for its artistic quality, often transforming routine wildlife photography into extraordinary pieces of art. He acknowledges the role of luck but credits countless hours in the field and familiarity with his subjects for his success.

Moving Forward

Paul Kettel

Looking ahead, Paul aims to simplify his images, focusing on clean, unique captures that showcase subjects in their best light. He dreams of exploring new territories but remains deeply connected to New Zealand's natural beauty. He’s committed to immersing himself in the moment, whether at home or abroad, continuing to find joy and mindfulness in his photographic pursuits.


This episode offers incredible insights into the life and philosophy of Paul Kettel. His dedication and love for nature shine through every anecdote and technique shared. His journey serves as an inspiring reminder of the beauty of persistence and passion.

Thank you for tuning into Episode 51 of Photo Country. Follow Paul Kettel on Instagram (@Paulkettel) for more of his stunning work.

If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review on Substack, Spotify, or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Your feedback means the world to us.

Until the next episode, stay safe and keep clicking. This is Rajeev signing off.

Don’t forget to check out this episode’s sponsors - ~ Use RAJEEV20 to get a discount or use

All photographs by Paul Kettel - used with permission