Don’t chase THAT hero shot

Johan van Zyl All Authors, Johan 4 Comments

Ever heard of FOMO?

The most contagious disease on Safari!!

We all suffer from it, but FOMO (Fear of Mission Out) needs to be controlled and managed as best as you possibly can.

Don’t get me wrong, I personally suffer badly from FOMO, and more often than not would like to be the first vehicle leaving the camp and the last one to get back, but it doesn’t always work like that.

So many times on Safari we compare.  We compare our sightings to what other vehicles have seen.  We compare our position in a sighting and compare it to where other vehicles are…  And then there’s the dreaded radio call that can cause more confusion than ever imaginable, the call that another vehicle has seen something amazing.

It all can get frantic, you’ve invested so much in a Safari and possibly you might be putting some pressure on yourself to create amazing images?  Here’s a few ideas and thoughts that might help…

1.  Stick with your Sighting.

Your Guide knows and understands animal behaviour, always give the sighting that you have (which is a guaranteed one) the benefit of the doubt.  Odds are the more time you spend with the animal, the better the chances are that you will see different behaviour.  The exception to this might be predators that are very full and not going to move anytime soon, or if the surroundings where your subject is, is not photographically good.

2.  Be Patient in the Sighting

More often than not when you are in a sighting there will be at least one or two other vehicles in the sighting with you.  Chances are that your subject might move right towards another vehicle.  Your Photographic Guide will asses what images are possible and communicate with your Guide where to position the vehicle based on the animals movements.  With wild animals one can’t always predict exactly what they are going to do and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but trust your Guides, they want the best images possible for you without impacting on the animals natural behaviour.

3.  Radio Call vs Current Sighing

Firstly it all depends what it is that has been “called in”.  If you have gone to a particular destination with the hope of photographing something in particular and it has been seen then the interest is much higher.  There will always be a few questions that us as Photographic Guides will communicate with the local Guides before moving to the new sighting:

  • What is the visual like on the animal called in?
  • What is it doing?
  • What are the surroundings like?
  • If it moves from it’s current position, are there still photographic opportunities?

If all of these questions are answered positively and will give you a better Photographic opportunity than the one you currently have, then responding to this sighting is a good idea.  Remember you are leaving a guaranteed sighting which you currently have, to something that is not guaranteed so making sure you ask those questions are vital.

4.  Enjoy the moment

Putting too much pressure on yourself will cause you to be flustered.  Observe your subject, understand the behaviour and look for patterns in their behaviour.  After taking a few images, pause and have a look at your images.  This will ensure that you are satisfied with your exposure and settings, after which you can fire away.  As always bank your images, making sure you have “proof shots” and then mix it up with different focal lengths, Depth of Field and shutter speeds.

Work on a 20, 60, 20.

The first 20% is your proof shots.  These are solid images that showcase what you’ve seen.

The 60% is your story telling images.  Look for moments or different behaviour.

The last 20% is your taking risks images.  Slow shutter speeds, panning etc which when they come off can be incredible.

Remember Photography should be fun.  It’s about the overall experience, not just the final results!

I hope this helps and look forward to sharing incredible experience with you all in 2018!


About the Author

Johan van Zyl


The opportunity of visiting some of the wildest, undisturbed areas and sharing my passion for wildlife, conservation and photography with like minded people is a privilege that I am forever grateful.

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Comments 4

  1. Carol Bell

    Johan I do like what you have said….. and I needed your reminder….. to sit back and enjoy and NOT get all tensed up about getting “The Shot” is what I am doing ….. and then not enjoying my photography….Will work on it…

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