The unfortunate reality of the fast-paced world in which we live, is that we often lose sight of what we are passionate about in life. Few people are able to describe what their passion in life is, and perhaps even fewer are in a position to say that their profession, is in fact their passion.
Thankfully, I am fortunate enough to be able to say that I have managed to marry my passion and profession.
For those who have not followed my journey as a photographic guide at Londolozi Private Game Reserve, my name is Alistair Smith, and I am proud to be the newest member of the Wild-Eye guiding team.
Id like to think that my passion for the great outdoors has been instilled in me from a very early age. Be it as a result of fly-fishing trips, numerous family trips to the Kruger National Park, camping weekends away, or perhaps a general combination thereof, I have loved spending time in nature for as long as I can remember.
I grew up in Johannesburg South Africa, and after completing my schooling, I attended Stellenbosch University just outside of Cape Town where I attained a degree in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics (nothing to do with wildlife I know). Following this, and like many 20-something university graduates, I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and so, I decided to enroll in a FGASA Level 1 (Field Guiding Association of South Africa) field guiding course at a well known game reserve in the Sabi Sands, alongside the Kruger National Park. The course was full-time over a three month period where we lived in the bush, learning as much as we could about the natural environment and the wide variety of interactions between wild animals therein. This was ultimately where my love for the bush was solidified.
Following this brief bush experience, I returned to Johannesburg to complete a postgraduate honors degree in business administration from the WITS Business School. This qualification naturally led me down a corporate career path where I began as an Account Manager at a large multi-national I.T. company. Whilst the corporate environment taught me a lot, not only about myself as an individual, and my ability to deal with a wide range of people from a variety of different industries, I was inherently unhappy, and I was convinced that something was missing from my life.
It didn’t take me long to realize that what was missing, was my inherent passion for wildlife. Months later, after an unimaginable amount of stress and anxiety, I took the leap of faith to give up a promising corporate career and follow my passion, and it has been without any shadow of doubt, the best decision I have ever made.
Although I had been interested in wildlife photography for some time before, it was only really when I started out as a guide at Londolozi, where my love for wildlife photography was born, and the more comfortable I became with my own photography, the more confident I felt about teaching other people how to capture unique images of their own.
My keen interest in photography, and my ability to help others with their own, naturally meant that I guided more and more guests who were interested in doing photographic safari’s, and so my development as a photographic guide began.
Going back in time to May last year, even before starting at Londolozi, I attended a Wild-Eye Weekend Wildlife Photography at the Cheetah Ridge Lodge in the beautiful Nambiti Game Reserve where I met Andrew and Johan for the first time. My exposure, even over such a short period of time, to the sheer professionalism of the Wild-Eye team was incredible. I knew then already, that I wanted to be a part of a team comprised of such passionate and driven professionals. To be sitting here today in the offices, among the likes of Andrew Beck, Jono Buffey, Marlon du Toit, Michael Laubscher, Gerry van Der Walt and Johan Van Zyl is quite literally a dream come true for me!
I look forward to joining the team, across a wide variety of enthralling safari destinations, in changing the way people see the world, and I am excited to continue sharing my journey with you all.
In ending off, Gerry and I recently recorded our first podcast together, in which I provide a little introduction to myself, and where my passion for wildlife and photography all started. Click on the link below and have a listen!
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