Why on this beautiful earth of ours are some wildlife photographers not having fun anymore?
Where did the passion go?
Where did the excitement go?
Where’s the love of nature gone?
Far too often I get the impression that photographers are very easily disappointed by what they manage top capture on their safaris & personal trips. They become so captivated by “the shot” that the completely forget about “the experience”.
I get it. I am a photographer by trade and absolutely have many dream scenes that pass through my daily thought trail. As I sit at my office desk preparing for my next adventure I too sit back and think about the potential, the what-ifs.
I am a dreamer at heart and often get completely immersed in a wildlife documentary or a book filled with wildlife photography. I love it!
One of my favourite books is by Dereck & Beverly Joubert. It is called Hunting with the Moon, based on a 13 year study they did on a pride of lions in Botswana. The book was published in 1997. I find myself getting completely lost in the haunting beauty of the images and they accompanying stories and adventures. They transport me back in time, as if I were there with them. The book was published some time ago and I am pretty sure Beverly will feel she has improved hugely as a wildlife photographer, but even if the images are not as good as what her work is today, they still come alive with mood and soul! They tell stories of many incredible adventures, out of their own the completely convince the viewer of their Joubert’s passion for what they do. I am sold every single time I read through it.
Then I jump from 1997 to 2015 and find myself falling into a near state of depression!
Why are people so often disappointed by the better-than-average photo’s they take!? It sickens me!
Let me break it down for you. The interest in wildlife photography is growing at an alarming rate! Many people are spending thousands on the latest and greatest camera gear. The safari industry seems well busy, and the national parks are full of SUV’s and long lenses drooping from the open window’s, pointing at just about anything that moves. I love it!
The more people getting into wildlife photography the better for nature, and the better for our business!
That said, the fact of the matter is simple. Not everyone will take an award-winning image.
In fact, I am YET to take an award-winning image! I know what it feels like folks, to enter a competition thinking you have a chance of placing, with no reward at all!
Would I love to carve through a J-Bay wave the way Jordi Smith does? Absolutely!
Would I love to hit the gym like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? Frikkin heal yeah!
The real question is will I ever attain the heights these professional’s have within their chosen art forms? Unlikely.
Why then do it? Why surf? Why hit the gym? Why even bother? I do it for the experience! I do it because it forms an integral part of my lifestyle! It is important to me. I am passionate about it. It completes me! Ha ha, I’ll stop there!
The point I am making, ladies and gentleman, is the following.
If you love nature and decide to take your photography seriously, DO NOT LOSE THE LOVE!
You should be driving through Kruger National Park because you have an undeniable passion and love for the land, for the animals, for the birds and for the tree’s! It is because your whole inner being demands of you to be there, it feels like an unstoppable force!
The saddest thing is that you can very easily lose perspective once you pick up your first DSLR. You can very easily hit the road back home and feel disappointed with your Kruger/Pilanesberg/Kgalagadi/Wherever visit because you did not nail the shot! Your mind is filled with the fact that that lions never woke up, and that the leopard walking past your car is completely blurry.
It angers me that there are so many wildlife guide’s and rangers out there that post an image to Facebook making it blatantly obvious that it is an average photo (when it often is not), and that they could have done better. Boy oh boy, I know of many people that would love to trade places with some of these guide’s, purely to gain a glimpse into the secret life of the leopard’s they get to see daily!
You forget that you actually got to SEE a leopard and a lion.
There are hundreds of thousands of people out there that will only ever get to see a lion or leopard within a zoo. You should feel like the luckiest person alive to have these experiences, be it within a national park of 5* safari lodge.
In today’s world where news is completely overrun by death, war, criminals and just sad news in general, there’s still unspoilt and untouched tracts of land where you can completely lose yourself, completely immerse yourself. If you happen to take a great image whilst being romanced by nature’s ways, AWESOME!
If not, there will likely be another time!
Don’t get despondent if you will never be as good as the pro’s out there, of if you don’t win the biggest competition. The reality is that most of us will never achieve these things. It is just not meant to be.
Should that break you down? Absolutely not!
If you are in it for the experience, for the thrill and excitement of being on safari first and foremost, you will rediscover the JOY!
Till next time,
Marlon du Toit