Masai Mara Photo Academy

Wild Eye – Masai Mara Photo Academy

Alistair Smith Alistair, All Authors 1 Comment

Trevor and I have recently returned from the inaugural Wild Eye Masai Mara Photo Academy, the very first of its kind in the history of the Mara Triangle Conservancy.

Wild Eye, in conjunction with Wild Eye East Africa, and Olympus South Africa, organized a week-long Photo Academy for the men and woman rangers of the Mara Conservancy – and what a week it was!

Olympus South Africa, in association with Wild Eye, had agreed to donate 6 mirrorless cameras, 6 telephoto zoom lenses, and 6 wide angle lenses to be used by the Mara Conservancy in their daily efforts to prevent illegal poaching, promote conservation and to ensure ongoing and sustainable eco-tourism in the Mara Triangle.

Our job as academy facilitators was to ensure that our ‘students’ walked away from the course with a far more detailed understanding of digital photography, but more importantly, a better understanding of what it takes to create better wildlife images.

In order to ensure that the rangers weren’t pulled away from their daily duties and responsibilities all at once, the 7 day course was split into two separate groups of six rangers per group, and 3.5 days of photographic guidance and tuition per group.

The course typically involved the following schedule:

  • Morning game drive and in field photographic tuition
  • Return to camp for breakfast
  • Image download, editing and social media sharing
  • Theoretical session and class presentations
  • Break for lunch
  • Practical application in and around the camp
  • Theoretical session and class presentations
  • Afternoon game drive and in field photographic tuition

The course was then further broken down into two main sections, the first being the Compositional and Artistic elements of wildlife photography, and the second (and more challenging) being the Technical aspects of digital photography.

The course was well organized and evidently quite intense, the aim of which was to pack as much as possible into the 3.5 days – and we did just that! However, despite the intensity, I can quite honestly say, that I have never come across a group of individuals so keen to learn, and so keen to engage on all things photography and wildlife related. It was so refreshing to see the motivation with which the men and woman of the Conservancy tackled the course; a real hunger for knowledge like I have never witnessed before!

All in all, their eagerness to learn, meant that the course was a great success, and both groups completed their respective courses with flying colors. In fact, perhaps our proudest moment as facilitators, was to see the joy on the faces, and the feeling of sheer accomplishment of all the course participants as we handed out the course achievement certificates at the final awards evening, a moment in time never to be forgotten by all involved.

Despite the fun, and many laughs that were had by all, and despite the opportunity for Trevor and myself to experience the magnificent Masai Mara for the very first time, we felt our own sense of accomplishment, as we left the rangers of the Mara Conservancy better equipped to make use of digital photography in their daily conservation efforts, and in their efforts to raise awareness among the local communities on the importance of preserving wilderness areas and their associated wildlife.

We have no doubt that this is only the very beginning of the partnerships that Wild Eye will continue to build with the Mara Conservancy, in an attempt to ensure that we are about more than just photographic safari’s alone, but rather deeply entrenched in Kenyan wildlife conservation initiatives.

This is why Wild Eye!


We have included a series of top class images that were captured by all students, and we hope you will enjoy and appreciate them, as much as we did ensuring that our students captured these moments.


Wild Eye - Photo Academy - OlympusSA
Wild Eye - Photo Academy - OlympusSA
Wild Eye - Photo Academy - OlympusSA
Wild Eye - Photo Academy - OlympusSA
Wild Eye - Photo Academy - OlympusSA
Wild Eye - Photo Academy - OlympusSA
Wild Eye - Photo Academy - OlympusSA


In additional to this series of wonderful images, Trevor and I have also been working on a highlights package of the entire week. The video includes inserts of what the course was like on a daily basis, as well as some of the memorable moments we shared together as a group.


It was an absolute pleasure and a privilege for Trevor and I to have participated in such an enriching experience, and we look forward to sharing more stories, images, blogs and videos with you all in the near future.

As always, thanks for your engagement and ongoing support!

Until next time,


About the Author

Alistair Smith

I left a corporate career in pursuit of a burning passion for the great outdoors and all things wilderness. Following a relatively short professional guiding career, I arrived at the realisation that my true passion was for adventure and wildlife photography. It is in this pursuit of adventure, that I would like to continue to share my passion for photography with others. I look forward to changing the way you see the world!

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Comments 1

  1. Pingback: Reflecting on my first year in the Masai Mara before heading up for my final 2 week stint for the year - Wild Eye

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