Managing Your Own Safari Expectations

Alistair Smith Alistair, All Authors 5 Comments

“Ah its ok”, “I just got lucky”, “Yes but its not as good as..”, “It could be better..”, “I wish I did this differently..”, “I’m just not getting it right..”, “I’m just not good enough”..

Do you find yourself saying things like this when out on photographic safari? Or have you heard others saying things like this? Either way, if you have heard or said these sorts of things before, then this blog post is for you.

A large part of anyone’s safari experience, is the ability to manage your individual safari expectations, and not to be too concerned with the experiences of others around you.

Without wanting anybody to act selfishly, it is necessary to recognize the value in understanding what YOU would like to achieve on a safari.

Perhaps it is merely human nature to compare ourselves to others, or perhaps in an attempt to continually improve, it is the inherent competitive nature within us all that leads us to be so focused on comparing our individual goals and aspirations with those of others?

Either way, when it comes to your individual development as a photographer, this kind of comparison can only ever lead to disappointment, and the failure to recognize your own successes. Make no mistake, I think looking up to others and gaining inspiration from their work is vitally important in nurturing your creative eye when on the lookout for scenes and subjects to photograph, but the minute you do so at the expense of your own self recognition, it becomes a problem.

The reality is that whether or not you are a total beginner, an amateur, passionate wildlife photographic enthusiast, or even professional, every one of us is on an individual photographic journey, and one that shouldn’t be constantly compared to the journey of others.

I can guarantee that those who gain the most from a photographic safari of any kind, are those who are comfortable with where they are on their own journey, and those who recognize their own personal progression. All too often I have witnessed people becoming disappointed, frustrated and even depressed to the point where they no longer wish to share their photographs with anybody, out of fear that their photographs will be judged or disliked. Not only does this defeat the purpose of joining a photographic safari, it also eliminates the most important element of all… the ability to simply have fun!

It may be more difficult in a group scenario where there are a number of photographers together, experiencing similar sightings and editing their photos all at once, but all the more reason to embrace the process. Share photographs, share stories and experiences, congratulate others on phenomenal captures, assist others who perhaps didn’t capture a scene as well and embrace the communal nature of a group photo safari, but don’t do so at the expense of serving your own journey. Take the time to be selfish when you need to be.

An easy way to stay focused on your own goals, is to remind yourself of your expectations for the safari, and if you have not formulated expectations, I would encourage you to do so prior to departure. These goals may be as broad as wanting to improve as a wildlife photographer, or they may be as specific as wanting to improve on capturing images making use of particular photographic techniques such as panning and intentional camera movement. Whatever your goals may be, be sure to stick to them irrespective of those around you.

The team of guides at Wild Eye is focused on tailor-making each safari experience at a very personal and individual level, to ensure that everyone achieves what they have set out to achieve on their personal photographic journey.

In summary:

  • Formulate your own expectations prior to departing on a safari
  • Take the time to recognize where you are on your photographic journey
  • Be inspired by others, but don’t try to be someone or something that you are not
  • Accept where you are, and be clear about where you would like to be
  • Embrace the communal environment associated with group photographic safaris
  • Take the time to remind yourself that you are there to progress on an individual level as a photographer
  • Dont forget to simply have fun, and enjoy your safari experience!
About the Author

Alistair Smith

I left a corporate career in pursuit of a burning passion for the great outdoors and all things wilderness. Following a relatively short professional guiding career, I arrived at the realisation that my true passion was for adventure and wildlife photography. It is in this pursuit of adventure, that I would like to continue to share my passion for photography with others. I look forward to changing the way you see the world!

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Comments 5

  1. Andy Benaglia

    I’ve done hundreds of safaris both in Kenya and Tanzania, born and bred in Kenya and worked as a safari guide for many years!, and every time I depart for a new adventure with an open mind.
    I now do it for my personal satisfaction and live the experience fully, both with and without a camera in my hand.
    Already getting ready for my third Wildeye Mara Migration tour and as for the following ones I depart mentally serene.
    Depart without worries about camp, food, service and sleep…….Wildeye is an assurance in that. Live it all fully and enjoy the great company and make new friends.

    1. Post
      Alistair Smith

      Hi Andy, I love your approach to safari adventures! Its often so much more than just the photographs. Its so important to take in the whole experience.

  2. Jakes De Wet

    The big lesson to learn is that not every sighting presents a great photographic experience, and sometimes a total trip can offer very few opportunities. This is where the learning process starts. I see many photographers only shooting with big long lenses, every shot is tight, or with the super zooms as well, shoot at the long end. yes it is important to develop your own style but the biggest frustration builds when people cannot see a different perspective, Shoot wider, play with composition, challenge yourself to photograph the animals in environment. tell a different story. I look through social media and a huge amount of the images are the same, a new trend is flash photography, in my view that kills all contrast and natural light, but that might be part of the learning. Be open minded but depart with a mindset to see thing through a different lens.

    1. Post
      Alistair Smith

      Hi Jakes. You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head, you’re absolutely right. Not every sighting presents photographic opportunity, so its important to be able to put the camera down, and take in the scenes around you rather than being frustrated trying to force an image that isn’t there to capture. I also totally agree with your comment about having diversity within your portfolio, not only of a variety of different subjects, but also a mixture between wide and close up portrait shots. Thanks for your comment.

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