Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye

Creativity Means Taking Risks

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 1 Comment

Earlier this week Penny wrote about the differences and necessity of both the technical and creative sides of photography.

I don’t think anybody can disagree that both of these approaches are necessary in order to create compelling images but most people seem to focus on the technical aspects of their own images.

Do you know why?

Because it’s easy.  It’s easy to put a number on something and quantify it.  My shutter speed was too slow.  My ISO was too high.  What should my aperture be?  The technical side of photography, when seen in isolation, can very much be seen as black and white.  Right or wrong.

The creative mind does not work like that.  Nothing in art should ever be seen as black and white I think that is what scares a lot of people from trying new things in the field or thinking of themselves as creative.  The grey area in between right and wrong, the middle so to speak, is where we should be playing.  The middle is where we should be breaking the rules and trying new things but there is a reason many people never do.


Many photographers are scared of creating an image which is different from the norm because people are scared of letting go of the rules.  Scared of not getting the shot and ending up with nothing.

Fear, I think, is the big reason as to why many people don’t embrace the creative side of wildlife photography.

Look at this scene.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye

A massive river crossing in the Mara.

The scene itself is dramatic and demands to be captured.  The predictable shots here, the easy ones, would be to dial up your shutter speed and zoom in – but not too tight just in case you mess it up – and fire away at the wildebeest as the crash into the river.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye

Not bad I guess, but easy.

Shooting at a high frame rate and fast shutter speeds means that you are quite safe in the execution of your photography and rely purely on the content in the frame, in this case the wildebeests, to make or break the image.


It’s when you take risks, when you try different things, that you will start creating images that are different.

Images that are made rather than taken.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye

Shooting into dust cloud meant I could not see what I was photographing.

Hardly a creative approach but a shot that required some risk as there was a very good chance I would end up with nothing but an image of dust.  In this case my risk paid off – often it does not – and I ended up with an image that speaks to me and captures the mood of the moment better than any of the other images from this crossing.

Creativity is different for every person but we are all creative.  Yes, even you!

If you struggle with the idea of being creative out in the field stop trying and stop thinking about it and just start taking risks.  Risk losing the shot and choose a way slower shutter speed than you would normally choose.  You literally have nothing to lose!

After banking my shots, which is where the technical side of photography is very important, I always follow some of the the best advise I have ever been given from a photography point of view.  The advise is simply to ask yourself one question out in the field.  And then ask it again.

Next time you are out in the field stop for a moment and ask yourself “What if I…” and then execute on that.  Ask the quesiton again, and execute again.

Take a risk and answer that question for yourself without worrying about the outcome.

Be creative out in the field, be bold and make mistakes.  Play in the that grey area and try new things.

Creativity means taking risks.

Until next time.


Share this Post

About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at or follow my journey on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter a look forward to changing the way you see the world.  I also host a Wildlife Photography Podcast and I Vlog!

Comments 1

  1. Nancy Anderson

    Once I can get my pictures off of my Mac I have some “way outside the box” Masai cattle in the mirage. I really like these pictures! If you like it that’s all that matters!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *