facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. True, justified belief and understanding as opposed to opinion.
I sat back the other day and jumped on a short trip back down memory lane. Browsing through my earlier photographs recalled such fond memories of what I have encountered out in the field. I am fortunate and blessed to have had the opportunity to see young leopards and lions grow into caring mothers and vicious territorial males. I have seen big old elephant bulls return to the same pastures year after year, their tusk load becoming more burdensome as age took its toll. I remembered how a lioness that lost her cub to a rogue male lion would venture back to the same spot of the horrific attack months after it happened. She would call out to the cub time and time again. Some experts will tell you that animals have no emotions but I will tell you otherwise. I have seen it, I have mourned with them.
One of the things that stood out to me the most was how I had grown as a photographer. I clearly remember how much I loved my photos at that time, and rightfully so. I thought that what I captured and the post-processing of it whas not all that shabby. I felt I had mastered enough of Lightroom 2 and that the excessive amount of contrast, sharpness and saturation really added a fresh dynamic and made them “pop”. Boy how wrong I was.
Looking back now I can clearly see how absolutely hideous my first post-processing attempts were. It was terrible. I had a reasonable canvas to work from as far as subject matter was concerned, but I would ruin it in processing. I needed help.
To what point am I getting to here?
As of late I have noticed a few recognized photographers discredit advice given by fellow wildlife photographers on the methods they would use to capture authentic African moments.
Why would you disregard something that could be of huge benefit to you? Why would you intentionally rob yourself of a direct blessing or even worse, influence a friend or an enthusiastic follower of your work by slating the advice of another person thereby plundering their opportunity to grow. This to me is selfish and un-called for.
You may argue that the given advice or thoughts are incorrect. This may be true but I feel that sometimes we tend to forget that what does not work for us may work for someone else. Things an experienced wildlife photographer has forgotten still needs to be learned by someone just settling in behind their first DSLR.
Why not take the good and do away with the “bad”?
In my early days as a budding wildlife photographer I had one advantage. I had an unassailable passion to become the best I can be. I wanted to portray what I experienced as authentically as possible. I could not do that on my own and I needed knowledge of not only my environment and subject but also of my equipment. I have a few people to thank today for selflessly sharing their knowledge and experience with me. I would hound them with questions. I would study the work of my favorite photographers in an attempt to decipher the image and their thought process behind it.
I still have that same appetite for growth today, that will never stop.
If you know it all and feel you can’t learn anything from anyone anymore, then thanks for reading this far. You are welcome to gather your thoughts and bring it to the table, reason with me.
For the rest, be it a beginner or a seasoned veteran of the art, never stop the journey to go further, the journey to be better than yesterday.
You will inspire many.
Marlon du Toit