Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

Intent and Risk in Wildlife Photography

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 7 Comments

Intent and risk.

These are two things I believe are vital when you head out to create wildlife images. In one of my presentations at our recent Wildlife Photography Seminar I spoke about intent and risk with regards to the creative side of wildlife photography but I think it goes deeper than that.

Heading out into the field with the intent of creating a certain type of image will not only make you see the world out there differently but it will also make you think. Yes, wildlife photography can be unpredictable at the best of times but if you control what you can and shoot with intent you will create stronger images. Simple as that.

Risk relates to the fear we all have, and I promise you we all have it, of people not liking our images or not getting it. This risk will cripple your ability to shoot freely and with intent and you will end up creating safe but boring images.

Intent means not half-assing the way you approach your own wildlife photography and risk means not giving a shit what people think about it. Might be difficult at first but I guarantee you that not only will you enjoy the process more but your images will improve.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

Until next time.


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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 7

  1. Carol Bell

    Really like what you have said….. I did take a lot of risks with my panning which I think has helped me in following animal/bird on the run or in flight. however have stopped that and am taking no other risks. I am going to have to think hard on other ways to take “risks” and “play with risks”…… I really do love your photo… its so different and you have made it so personal… I think anyway.

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      Gerry van der Walt

      Thanks for the comment Carol. Don’t worry about what risks to take or go looking for them. Just go out in the field and shoot without worrying what people will think! Enjoy and good luck! 🙂

  2. Phil Abraham

    Gerry, spot on, there are too many ‘safe’ images out there…and they all merge into an average ‘snap’ . The challenge and risk of new ideas and breaking new ground in your personal photography is what keeps it fresh. Yes sometimes it will not work as intended but often it will yeild unexpected results.

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  3. Naomi

    I love this blog…

    I think for most people, when you live far from where the safari or wildlife is, and you’ve worked hard and paid your hard earned cash to get there , it’s difficult to take risks, as being experimental can make people feel like a lost opportunity when they could risk missing getting a ‘good, traditional’ shot, whatever that means.

    I try to achieve a mix of both, as I want my friends and family to see more postard-sytle images as they can relate to them more and it shows them what it’s like in a way they can understand. Alongside that I always try to do my own thing, which usaully involves taking abstract-ish photos that most of my friends wouldn’t “get” but I enjoy doing.

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