So much more to an image

Andrew Beck Andrew Leave a Comment

After reading through this post and watching the video that Andrew Aveley shared last week it got me thinking on how sometimes, no matter how hard we try or how prepared we are, sometimes we just can’t convey a full story in a single frame.

As photographers that’s ultimately what we strive to do – tell a compelling story in a single frame right?

What caught my eye in the video and got me thinking is the section of the video clip where the wildebeest who are running from left to right suddenly stop and face the cheetah head on (1:17), then, as the second cheetah enters the frame, they scatter again. I found this sudden and abrupt change of movement more interesting than the actual hunt itself! Had Andrew chosen to represent this sighting with a single frame I would never have seen that or even know that it had happened. A sobering reminder that we can only portray so much of a story in a single frame.

Stay with me here…

If we take this a bit further and look at the personal emotions behind an image,  I personally  find it very hard to detach my emotional affiliation with an image from the actual image itself. I have many images that I absolutely love which may not be appeal at all to anyone that I show them too. What makes these images so good in my eyes then?

Its not just whats in the frame.

For each and every image that I have I can tell you where it was taken, who I was with, how we came to be there, how long we waited and and and. Sometimes the stories behind the images are just as intriguing as the image itself.

This image from Greg Du Toit is a perfect example:

Picture 019

I am sure that you will agree that this is a spectacular image!

Now, for those of you who may not have heard Greg’s story, he sat submerged in this small waterhole in the middle of the South Rift Valley in Kenya with nothing but his camera for more than 270 hours before he even encountered the free roaming lions that he so desperately wanted to photograph. Not only did Greg put in the time, but he paid the price for his efforts as he contracted an assortment of parasites, including bilharzia and a few other worms.

I am pretty sure that this will forever remain one of Greg’s favourite images. Not just because of the story told by the image itself but because of the incredible experiences and stories behind it.

What Am I trying to say?

As photography grows in popularity there seems to be a massive trend where people are constantly worried about their technical specs, their camera bodies, their lenses, what images others are capturing, how much to process an image… The list go’s on and on. That’s not what photography should be about and if thats why you got into photography then I feel sorry for you because you are missing out on something which is incredibly special. Yes, there is a lot to learn on the photographic journey, but more importantly there are a lot of people to meet and a lot of exciting and remote destinations to explore.

I am willing to bet that no matter what your level of photographic skill, the bonds that you will form with these people and the experiences you will have in these destinations will be of far greater value to you than any of the images that you will capture.

There also seems to be a trend where people will head to a destination for 7, 10 or 14 days and want to come back with the most incredible images. It is possible that you put in the time and lady luck is on your side but don’t forget just how much time and effort go’s into capturing the inspirational images we see in books like “Dark Side of the Kalahari” (Hannes Lochner) and Greg Du Toit’s first coffee Table Book “AWE”.

You can join Greg for his book launch at the Wild Eye office on 7 November by clicking here.

Londolozi Leopard copy

I remember sitting around the fire with Hannes Lochner one evening before he headed off into the dunes of the Kalahari and he mentioned that in the preceding 3 months he felt that he had not got a single useable image for his book. 3 Months in the Kalahari with access to some of the most remote regions at night without a single image for the book!

You have to be realistic about your expectations when you travel and head out on safari – its great to have ideas about what you want to photograph but if you focus entirely on that aspect of the trip you will almost certainly miss out on the “Bigger Picture” – I hope thats not too cheesy, I just felt it worked!

Okay I’m done now…

I guess what I am trying to say is that not matter how dedicated and enthusiastic you are about your photography, don’t forget that your photography should be a personal journey. One which will present many challenges, disappointments and expenses. But also one which will see you making new friends, exploring new destinations and, ultimately, changing the way that you see the world!


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