Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

Stop Being Afraid

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 11 Comments

On Saturday I asked a whole room full of keen wildlife photographers how many of them enters wildlife photography competitions.

No one put there hand up.  No one.

I then asked them straight up whether they think it’s because their images aren’t good enough.

Almost everyone agreed.  Most people felt that there images weren’t good enough.

Fear, being afraid, is one of the most debilitating emotions and probably the biggest thing standing in the way of most people’s growth and enjoyment of wildlife photography.

Photography Competitions

My feeling is that competing in photography is very much like trying to win at yoga – pointless – but I still urge all my clients and guests to enter their images into competitions.  The reason is that the process of selecting images, prepping them and then putting them out as your best has great value.  Looking at your own images with a critical eye and choosing your entries, that’s the important part.

Who cares whether you win or loose?

Who cares whether a few judges who you’ve never met or whose work you might not even like says yours isn’s a great image?

The process and intent is what counts.

Apart from the fear of entering competitions there are a few of other fears out there that might be stunting YOUR growth as a photographer.

Sharing your work online

Just do it.

Share your work without worrying about how many people see it, how many likes it will get or the fear that nobody will like it.

You cannot decide what other people will think or say about your work so stop worrying about it.

Do not be scared about what people will say about your images.

Asking for help

It’s quite amazing how many people are scared to ask for help.

Nobody knows it all and in this age of digital information it’s very easy to get answers to the questions you have.  I assure you that if you have a certain question there are many many people who have the same question.

Asking for help or guidance – sharing information – is something we all should do more of.


Going on a photographic safari

I’ve heard quite a few people say that they will go on a photo safari once their photography gets a little bit better.

This kind of misses the point as a photographic safari should be aimed at improving your photography.  Sure there are companies out there who, even though they say they do, don’t really teach all that much and basically just offer a group of photographers to travel with and that’s ok.

Don’t let the fear of ‘I’m not good enough’ stop you from joining a photographic safari.  Simply make sure you have a good look at the company you might want to travel with and will be able to figure out quite easily whether you’re learning needs will be met.

At Wild Eye teaching is in our DNA, it’s what we do and why we do what we do.  We don’t just offer safaris and private guiding but also run entry level courses, do private tuition and have a vast knowledge base of informative blogs and videos online to help you improve your photography.  Not many companies out there can say this.  Our approach of teaching and sharing is something that is evident in everything we do so don’t be scared of joining a safari.   I guarantee that you will not only have a great time but will leave with some new ideas, techniques and inspiration!

I’m going to say this again.  Fear, being afraid, is one of the most debilitating emotions and probably the biggest thing standing in the way of most people’s growth and enjoyment of wildlife photography.

The reality is that every single photographer out there – yes even the amazing professionals that you admire – started somewhere and they were also afraid when they they started.  Hell, I’m willing to bet that some of them still feel that moment of fear and nerves when it comes to sharing their work.   I know I am.

It’s natural so don’t let fear hinder your growth and enjoyment of your photography.

Do what you do and simply enjoy the process.

Stop being afraid.

Gerry van der Walt - Wildlife Photography - Wild Eye

Until next time,


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About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at or follow my journey on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter a look forward to changing the way you see the world.  I also host a Wildlife Photography Podcast and I Vlog!

Comments 11

  1. Deji Odetoyinbo

    That. Gerry van der Walt, is the single most energizing and inspiring post I have EVER read on a photography topic. What an absolutely thought-provoking and empowering message!
    Thank you.


    Fan-tas-tic lioness photograph too!

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  2. Carol Bell

    Gerry going on a photography safari really helped me improve and I learnt so much…….. even though I felt “very stupid and uncomfortable” in the beginning…….. in fact it gave me the confidence to ask for advice, help and go on private workshops …… and show my worst photographs asking what I am doing wrong with them……..

    Re entering competitions I have and do. Only thing is I have to “control myself to not get upset that my photos are not accepted” However this makes me more determined to carry on trying. What I would like is to know is what I have done wrong in the photo I entered in the competition…… is it I am not seeing the “action”… “have not found anything different” ext….

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  3. Stu Bowie

    Hi Gerry, A great read. I wish I could go on photographic safari’s. Having a day job – not always possible. 🙂


  4. Anja gröbel

    Hi Gerry,
    Your posts are so inspiring and just what a passionate amateur hobbyist needs who want to learn and improve. I am working on my website and need to select pictures to put in my website. You cannot believe how difficult this is. As i doubt about the pictures and look at them a hundred times before choosing. Your post gives me a boost to just do it and post.
    I wish i could get more comments when posting something, that is so necessary for improving and learning.
    keep on doing the good work
    regards Anja

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      Gerry van der Walt

      Thanks for your comment Anja! Keep going and stick to your goals. That is the most important thing!! 🙂 If you ever need any feedback on your web or images feel free to drop me a mail and I’ll be happy to comment where I can! 🙂

  5. Christy Turner

    I enter everything and promote the crap out of everything, just for the hell of it. Photography is art, and like any art, is entirely personal and my take on this is if my photo happens to resonate with someone besides me, even just one person, then that is just wonderful! Not only that, but submit photos to stock photo sites. Even if you get rejected. you may get some useful criticism on where to improve. Same goes with posting it on a page for others to see- take that constructive criticism (and ignore any and all haters) and use it to project your work to the next level.

    Finally, go on photo safaris. Go on multiple photo safaris with a variety of established photographers. I can learn something from everyone. I plan to try to incorporate photo instruction into 50% of my vacation trips, and I take a lot of trips!

    Great post, Gerry. Have to run now- going to post and enter some of my pics! ; )

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