Safari Awards 2015 – Winner
- I was part of Molori Safari’s guiding team that won the 2015 Safari Awards for Best guiding team in South Africa (just two of us) and we were also finalists in the Walking Safari category.
Leading Hotels of the World Certificate for Guiding excellence 2012
- This came about completely unannounced I had guided a quality assurance officer for the Leading Hotels of the World with out knowing it. He had posed as a British diplomat mixing a small safari with Business in the country. I received a 95% pass grade on my quality of service while guiding.
BBC Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer 2014 – Semi finalist
- I had two images make it through to the final round judging
Getaway Gallery competition finalists – October 2013
- Aardvark curiosity doing really well in this competition as well.
Natures Best Photography 2013 – African Wildlife Category Highly Honored finalist
- First of the Aardvark images to do well in a competition, This one has been an instant hit with many editors and fans alike. From all the images I submitted, I had high hopes for this one.
BBC Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer 2012 – Semi finalist
- This has surely got to be my biggest photographic accomplishment to date, thousands of photographers from all corners of the planet submit images for this competition which is by far the biggest wild life photography competition world wide. And to have your image make it through to the finales is truly rewarding.
Africa Geographic Canon photographic competition – May 2010 winner
- I was so happy about this, but I was at the time in the Lower Zambezi national park. So the news took its time to come through the bush telegraph.
Natures Best Photography 2010 – Semi Finalist
- This was an absolute surprise, as I did not expect to do very well as my whole submission of images turned into such a “shelp”. But I made it into the finals for one of America’s top wildlife photographic competitions … reason to be chuffed
Getaway Wildlife Awards 2007 ~ Animal General Highly Commended
- The first real accomplishment I had with my images and photography and one would think I would have followed it up with numerous more . I never entered the Getaway competition again, don’t ask me why?
How did your upbringing influence your great interest in wildlife?
I was very fortunate, that my parents allowed me a lot of freedom while I was growing up on a tobacco farm in Northern Zimbabwe. Everybody needs a reason to be anywhere and I used hunting and fishing as my reason to explore the farm and surrounding bush. This eventually grew into a curiosity in the natural world and it was not long before I replaced my rifle for a pair of binoculars, I still have the fishing rod thou …
What is it you find compelling about the African environment?
That is a difficult question to answer, as I have only spent my life in the African environment, with the exception of a few short years in Australia. I envy people that grew up in the rest of the world, in that they will experience something that Africans never will. That sensation of arriving in Africa for the first time, it must be a magical experience. The closest I have come to that experience, was on the Rim of Ngorongoro crater, there in front of me was the whole of Africa in a bowl. The compelling thing about Africa is the special emotions associated with the continent, often my guests say that Africa gives them a “coming home” feeling, a sense of place …
How did you become involved in photography and eventually become known for it?
I only ever got one distinction while at school and that was for art, so I have a bit of a creative streak in me. As a professional safari guide, it did not take me long to find my way into wildlife photography. However for me it was not really a tool I used to document what I see, but rather a way for me to channel my creativity. When Leana and I were managing Old Mondoro in the Lower Zambezi National park, I started a personal blog that I used as a diary for the day to day happening around camp, which allowed family and friends to follow us and stay up to date.
You’ve had a lot of success with your photography. What’s your greatest achievement?
I see myself as a guide rather than a photographer, because I specialize in guiding photographers I get plenty of oppertunites to shoot along side my guests and I get to experanince and photograph Africa daily. So I have had plenty of oppertunites to capture amazing scenes.
There is a bit of a rush when a particular image does well in a competition and over the years I have been lucky enough to have some of my images published in various magazines, (Getaway travel, Ranger Rick – National Wildlife Federation magazine, National Geographic traveler and Africa Geographic, Discovery – Cathay Pacific inflight magazine) and a few photographs have gone on and done very well in numerous international photography competitions (BBC Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the year, Getaway Gallery, Windland Smith Rice & Nature’s Best Photography competition, Africa Geographic).
It is photography itself that has opened a brand new direction for me in my guiding and I am very happy that I started guiding with a photographic mind set from early on. So I enjoy every single moment with one of my clients that manage to photograph a moment or scene on their wish list and its something I set out to achieve on every safari.
Is there any animal that you want to photograph but haven’t been able to yet?
Long answer: No I look for amazing light, that’s a dangerous question for a wildlife photographer. Most photographer loose complete focus when they find out there is a special animal that can be photographed. That’s why Leopards are often very frustrating for me as a photographic guide, most visitors to Africa would love to see a leopard and when one is found, they are very secretive and often in the shadows. Which is never really an appealing photograph.
That’s where guiding photographers is very different to guiding normal travelers, its easier for me to sell the idea of photographing a common animal in very good light, after a few quick images have been taken of a sleeping leopard in deep shade, all photographers will be happy to move onto something in golden light.
Short Answer: Yes, a Pangolin
Perfect Answer: When the long and the short answers come together, amazing subject matter (Pangolin or that Leopard) in golden Light. The Holy Grail for Wildlife photographers.
What makes for a successful photographic safaris?
Personal attention to photography details, every aspect of a safari needs to be tailored to the photographic client. A safari experience extends beyond the actual safari, preparing the photographers for specific destinations, before they arrive so they are ready and able to capture specific images. Its about knowing what they want, what they need and delivering that experience to the very best of my ability.
How do you combine being a guide and a wildlife photographer?
I prioritize on what is important, I specialize in guiding photographers and I don’t make a living from selling photographs. So my priority is the clients, their photographic experience and ultimately there photographs.
The catch twenty two is that marketing my self as a skilled photographic guide and to be able to do this I need to show my skills as a photographer. Fortunately I get plenty of opportunities to shoot along side my guests, it is part and parcel of guiding photographers. It is important for me to know what a scene looks like through the eyes/lens of the photographers. It also allows me to react if the light changes or a scene develops, this gives me a better understanding on how to answer questions on exposure and camera settings.
What would be the 5 top tips you would have for photographing wildlife?
- There will always be an element of luck involved with Wildlife photography and all to often Wildlife photographers rely too heavily on getting lucky. It is possible to make you own luck. Spend as much time with a single subject as you can, watch its behavior and react quickly when it changes or the light shifts.
- Take as much photographs as you can when the moment requires it and knowing when to be selective if there is nothing happening. Don’t always try and get as close as possible, if you are too close, you naturally start photographing down upon subject which excludes slots of it’s environment. Start taking photographs from the moment you find your subject and as you progress closer try to get lower so to include the Horizon. This will always give your images a sense of place.
- Sunlight comes if various forms and colours, understanding how the time of day and environmental factors affect the light temperature and strength is an essential part of a wildlife photographer skill set. The Golden Hours are the most valuable to a wildlife photographer, Get out early and stay out later, so to get your subject in that perfect light …
- There is this disillusion within wildlife photography that a great image has to contain a rare and exotic animal in a far-flung corner of the world. What most photographers forget is, their local animals are some one else’s exotic. Learn your craft in your local park or woods/bush and the key to photographing any animal is spend as much time with your subject to photograph every detail of it life. If you are going to a new location, I suggest get a professional photographic guide. They will help speed up your understanding of this new location and its animals as its there back yard.
- Composition in photography is all about creating points of interest and balance within a photograph. Creating the point of interest is the easy part, with your subject animal or a distinctive feature. However achieving balance is what most people don’t quite get right. Balance becomes imperative when there are many points of interest within a photograph.
Over the years, photographers have adopted alot of compositional idea’s and guidelines (often referred to as rules of composition). These are help a great help, understanding how and when to use them is vital, knowing when to break them is also important.
What equipment is essential if you want to get the best photos?
Any cameras can be used to photograph an animal, but not all cameras are suitable for wildlife photography. The 35mm Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) has been the camera of choice for most professional wildlife photographers. One of the biggest advantages of this system is its ability to change lenses which then changes the focal length and can completely alter the image that falls onto the sensor, an enormous advantage for a wildlife photographer who has to react to different and ever changing scenes.
As a starting point looking at buying a Wide angle lens (16 to 24mm), a standard zoom lens (35 to 70mm) and a telephoto zoom lens (70 to 300mm). If your budget allows look at getting a fast telephoto prime (500mm f4 or 600mm f4).