Nice, But Without The Fizz.

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

As a wildlife photographer, copying other people’s images is not necessarily something you should strive for.

That being said there are a number of iconic moments, African moments, that we would all like to have in our portfolios not because of any other reason than wanting to experience it for yourself.  To shoot it for yourself.  I’m thinking shots like a lion yawning, a cheetah on a mound in the open grasslands of the Masai Mara and a fish eagle hunting.

The process of getting these kind of images is without a doubt a part of a normal photographic journey as long as they are just a stepping stone to you finding your own inspiration.  Your own photographic voice.

I am sure you will agree that some of the most important attributes any wildlife photographer should have include patience and perseverance – both which are very necessary when going after those iconic images we all so desire.  Even though there are ways in which we can take shortcuts to negate the need for patience and perseverance the resulting images feels be a bit like flat Coke – nice but without the fizz.

Knowing where a fish eagle is going to strike and having the ability to set yourself and your camera up correctly increases your chances of an iconic image quite dramatically.

Now, let’s not go down the road of baiting in wildlife photography just yet as Mark Dumbleton shared this post a while ago and I am also brewing a post in which I’m gonna share some thoughts and first-hand experiences I had recently.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife & Nature Photography

For now, my question to you is this…

Do you think that when you share a wildlife image you should state whether the subject was photographed naturally and without any human interference?   


Do you think that it is your prerogative, as the photographer, to not share that kind of information and allow the image to be seen as a true wildlife image?

As I see it, even if you bait a subject there is most definitely still a certain amount of skill required to create a sharp, striking image by understanding and using the equipment you have at your disposal.

That being said, is not stating that a subject was baited not the same as changing the actual content of the image in photoshop, by adding to or removing parts of the scene, and ‘selling’ it as a real shot?   Sure, you will end up with a great looking image but is it a real wildlife photograph?  Does is really satisfy you as a photographer?  Where do we draw that line?

As a wildlife photographer I take a huge amount of satisfaction in capturing animals in their natural behaviour doing what they do naturally and without any human influence or interference.

If you ‘make’ the shot by getting involved it’s like flat Coke.

Nice, but without the fizz.

What do you think?

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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Comments 0

  1. john macpherson

    SO, it boils down to……………

    “Do you think that when you share a wildlife image you should state whether the subject was photographed naturally and without any human interference? ”



    “Do you think that it is your prerogative, as the photographer, to not share that kind of information and allow the image to be seen as a true wildlife image?”


    Where do we draw the line? Right between the two statements in BOLD above.

    Most reasonable people should have no trouble with this ‘ethical dilemma’, and the side of that line you step into is entirely up to you. Too much ‘control’ over the circumstances of your ‘wildlife photography’ limits the opportunities for magic provided by nature, which will always exceed the narrow confines of the human mind.


    1. Post

      Well said John. To me wildlife photography should tell the ‘real’ stories of nature – without any human interference – so the answer is a pretty simple one. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

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