Photographing the Great Migration in the Masai Mara

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry Leave a Comment

Mention the Masai Mara and one of the first things that comes to mind is the great wildebeest migration.

The dynamic nature of the Serengeti Mara eco-system and the intensity of the migration in the  Mara is something you cannot experience anywhere else in the world and there is a reason that the Wild Eye Mara Camp is as popular as it is.

The Mark’s post earlier today he shows some of the other species that can be seen and photographed in the Mara which goes to show that the Mara is a destination that can be visited anytime during the year.  I experienced this a month ago when, during our Big Cats & Tuskers photo safari, we spend four days in the Mara photographing big cats and a host of other species.

During the migration season you will not only have the opportunity to photograph this wide range of species but you will also have the opportunity of photographing wildebeest as the continue the never-ending great migration.

Yes, you are going to want to photograph the crossings, when the masses of wildebeest thunder into and across the Mara river, but in order to tell a complete story – because that is what wildlife photography is all about –  you need to look at creating a wide variety of shots to showcase the migration.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye Photographic Safaris

Yes, not a migration shot by any means but a scene setting shot that shows a lone wildebeest making his way… somewhere.

This is the very first image I ever took of a wildebeest in the Mara.  Yes, you are that excited when you first arrive there!

Driving a little further, and as we came over the top of a small hill, we saw a few more wildebeest.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye Photographic Safaris

These kind of wide, landscape shots are great to show the size of the Mara and the scale of some of the wildebeest herds.

Driving through the herds you will have more opportunities to get scene setting shots that will compliment the crossing images that everyone always wants.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye Photographic Safaris

During August to October the migration is in full swing in the Mara but as Mark said in his post there is always more than just wildebeest.

Making sure you get shots of different species interacting with, or at least in the same frame as the wildebeest, will be of great value when you are compiling your portfolio from a great migration photo safari.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye Photographic Safaris

Then there you get the crossings.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye Photographic Safaris

When you are shooting a crossing don’t just go for the normal shots that everyone else will get.

Try different things to convey the drama.

Slow shutter speed, zoom in, zoom out, shoot wide.  Anything to create images that, even if just for yourself, tells the story of the intensity and drama of a river crossing.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye Photographic Safaris

By combining a number of different and diverse wildebeest images with other images showing the diversity of the Mara you will be able to not only create an amazing and unique portfolio of images but also – and this is important – tell a complete story of an amazing wildlife destination.

Gerry van der Walt - Wild Eye Photographic Safaris

The Masai Mara is an amazing wildlife destination and makes for amazing photographic opportunities and when you head out there remember – always keep your eyes open, shoot what you see and shoot for yourself!

This year Mark and I are doing a special ten day photographic safari in the Masai Mara during the peak of the great migration season.  If you ‘re keen to join us on what promises to be one of the most extensive photo safaris in the Mara make sure to book one of the last remaining spots!

And yes, it’ll definitely be worth it!

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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