No detail too small for amateur French insect photographer

Pierre Anquet has taken insect macro-photos for four years and they are recognised as among the best in the world

19 January 2021
By Connexion journalist

An amateur French photographer has enjoyed success in numerous international contests with his startling closeup pictures of insects.

Pierre Anquet works in a home studio, using a hybrid camera, a microscope with an adaptor and several specialised lenses, a computer-controlled “microrail” to take slightly overlapping images, and specialised software.

He has taken photos recognised as among the best in the world.

He came 19th in Nikon Small World’s global macro-photo competition, where entrants include professional photographers and university researchers, with a photo of the sting of an Asian hornet leaking venom.

The photo was later published in the Wall Street Journal.

“I had been taking photographs of various themes for around 10 years, when I came by chance on a YouTube video by an American photographer, Thomas Shahan, four years ago, showing some insect macro-photos and explaining how he got them,” he said.

“It attracted me immediately – the beautiful colours and forms of the insects just hit me, and I started to take my own photos. Since then, they are just about the only photos I take.”

Mr Anquet, 35, from Bédeilhac in Ariège, works as a quality controller in a factory making aircraft parts.

Most of his studio pictures take at least three days of photography, usually after work. “The first day, I typically clean and rehydrate the insect and set up the equipment,” he said.

“On the second day, I take the photograph, and the third I spend working on the image with the computer.”

His record is 12 hours on one photo.

'You have to be meticulous, which I enjoy'

All the insects he uses in the studio are either ones he has found dead or that have been lent from collections. His wife is not a fan of insects in the house. “She likes to look at them once photographed and in a frame on the wall,” he said.

During spring and summer, he photographs insects outside, with a favourite being little jumping spiders, the first insects he tried to photograph using macro techniques. “They are small but in many ways photographing them is similar to photographing larger animals,” he said.

“It is only after you have been sitting there still and quiet for 15 minutes or so that they accept you and start going about their everyday business.”

Although it is his passion for photography which drives Mr Anquet, he is aware that what he is doing can also be used by entomologists studying insects.

He has shared pictures with them when particular parts of the insect in his photos have attracted attention. He also shares with “two or three” friends on the internet from all over the world working at a similar level of excellence as himself, who discuss techniques.

His work can be viewed on his blog and he sells prints of his photos and has had exhibitions in Toulouse and Foix.

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