When everybody zigs, try zagging. Take my word for it as an editor who looks at a whole lot of “zigs” all day… it’s the photos that “zag” that immediately capture my imagination and get my fingers racing across the keyboard.

A perfect example of a photo that stands out as different is this shot titled “Journey” by photographer and 500pxer Scott McCook. Captured in New Zealand, the photo shows a little Tawaki penguin staring out at the ocean, preparing to dive in and brave the depths for food and, ultimately, family.

Scott tells the story behind the shot below, and it’s clear he had a narrative in mind when he decided to capture the wide-angle shot he did and process it the way he did. This narrative jumps off each pixel in the shot, turning what might have been a “nice” photo into something captivating. Take note… or just enjoy. Either way.

Journey by Scott McCook on 500px.com

The Story Behind my Photo ‘Journey’

by Scott McCook

This little Tawaki penguin is waiting to head out for a feed, I captured this dude while on the west coast of the south island New Zealand. I wanted this to kind of give the feeling of the huge task ahead for the little dude with the open ocean waiting there for him/her in all its vastness—kind of an isolated feeling and no matter what predator lay in the ocean ahead, he/she has to go otherwise the little ones won’t be fed.

I had seen an image a while ago now done by Joshua Holko with this amazing line of penguins crossing this huge expanse of land with some icebergs or mountains in the background. The image just clicked with me and the message it held. These guys are so small but live in some of the harshest places known to man, and on top of that go and look for food in the oceans there. When I knew I was going to photograph these guys I wanted to capture that same feeling but in my own way.

We were lucky enough to have Dr. Gerry McSweeney from the Wilderness Lodges NZ take us out to see these amazing little guys. Gerry was the conservation director of Forest & Bird which is/was New Zealands largest conservation group before starting up the wilderness lodges. His passion for all things wildlife is amazing and we had him as our guide to go and witness these awesome lil dudes.

We spent a good 2 hours hidden in our little rock corner as to not disturb them and witnessed the day to day life of the Tawaki penguin. For me it wasn’t the close ups that had appeal right away, but these more distant shots. It was almost like this guy was just taking a moment to compose himself on the mission ahead—it was really cool in my eyes, and I enjoyed putting my own spin on this type of image.

Here’s that photo one more time, so you don’t have to scroll up:

Journey by Scott McCook on 500px.com

A big thank you to Scott for reaching out, and sharing such a great story in the description of his photo. If you need a great example of how your photo descriptions should look, this photo is perfect!

To see more from Scott, give his 500px account a follow or find him on Facebook and Instagram.