BEAUTIFUL WARRIORS comprises 14 images of Betta fish as they are more commonly known. The natural habitat of Betta fish is freshwater: streams, ponds and even puddles. These beautiful warriors would not survive in the ocean due to the high-density salt. Originating from Thailand (formerly Siam), these beautiful warriors gained popularity amongst children who collected these territorial fish in rice paddies and would place them together to watch them fight, which is how they also came to be known as Siamese Fighting Fish. Recognising their popularity, The King of Siam decided to regulate and tax them.

Having worked with many different kinds of animals in the past for various projects, Charlie understood the value in planning the lighting, location, environment and preparation so set about overcoming the challenges these tiny and speedily fish would inevitably present.

“After speaking to the manager of my local aquarium and coming to an arrangement which would be best all round for the fish and the practicality of photographing them, I invested in a specialist tank at home which would enable me to have 3 Betta fish at a time, but keep them separated with partitions within the tank as without that they would fight until the death. Each partition also enabled me to change the background with different coloured Perspex which I could further control with gelled lights. Diffused clear Perspex sheets were used from above with more direct light to light the fish. At the time of shooting, I would introduce a flexible mirrored sheet into the section I was focusing on which would not only bounce the light back onto the fish but present it with its own reflection, thus thinking it was another fish which would bring on ‘attack mode’. Tails would be puffed up and gills opened, just like a cat fluffs its tail when threatened, I would only shoot for a few minutes, then remove the mirror to limit the stress on the fish.”