That Extra Something

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

We’ve all heard it before.

Photography should be about telling a story.

Photography should be about sharing a moment.

Photography should be about freezing a moment time.

No matter how you cut it or how fancy you make it sound, at the end of the day all we as wildlife photographers really want is for people to look at our images, to enjoy them and to see a piece of the beauty we experienced out in the field.

Scrolling through my images from Lake Nakuru I found an image like that.  It doesn’t conform to all the rules, in fact, it breaks quite a few of the guidelines you find online as to what makes a good wildlife image.

But, and it’s a big but, when I sit back and just look at the image without judging it or trying to fit it into some or other category it speaks to me.  It reminds me of the moment on the edge of the lake when a small group of Flamingos started taking off while I was photographing a large buffalo.

Take a few seconds, just sit back and look at this this image.

Humor me and just look at it for a short while without trying to categorise, judge or make sense of it.


Nikon D3s, 600mm, 1/8000, f/4, ISO 800
Lake Nakuru, Kenya 

To me it works as visually it keeps me busy for a while as my gaze wonders around the frame taking in all the elements.  To me it shows the moment that I experienced without me having to try and categorise or validate the image by running it through a set of rules that would have probably seen this one end up on the digital cutting room floor.

After seeing the 2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition a week ago, and not just seeing but really looking a bit deeper, and also chatting to the winner, Greg du Toit, I was again reminded of the fact that there is more to wildlife images, to great wildlife images, than just great content and technical perfection.  Whatever it is, whatever that extra something is, as long as people look at our images enjoy them and share in the moment we captured the image works.

More often than not the rules and perceptions of what our images should look like takes us, contrary to what we are trying to achieve, further away from the moments we are trying to share.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Andy Warhol which, to me, echoes these thoughts:  “Don’t think about making art, just get it done.  Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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