People say that an image is worth a thousand words. I think it way more powerful than that.
My photographic journey started many years ago when I was still traveling the world while working on the Queen Mary 2. With a little point and shoot camera I started getting quite obsessive about taking image at all the cities I visited and the people I met.
For me it was not about the technical or artistic side of it, it was just about creating something that will help me remember. Something that will help me tell the stories I was living and experiencing.
At the time I was not concerned about composition, depth of field or post processing – I hardly new what they were! I was literally just pointing and shooting. And you know what? I had a blast!
Over time I started reading a bit, did a few photography courses and when I bought my first D70 in Gibraltar the game changed. Suddenly I had more buttons, more dials and a whole lot more things to try. To me, that was the start of my photographic journey.
Fast forward a few years.
I arrived back in South Africa with my D70 and a few newly acquired lenses and was keen to try my hand at photographing wildlife. Now at this point it is worth mentioning that I grew up in South Africa and have always had a true love and deep appreciation for wildlife and nature.
After playing around, as that is really what it was, with wildlife photography I moved into lodge management and field guiding and it was here where my two passions, photography and nature, not only found each but excelled.
Suddenly I was in the bush everyday. I was seeing amazing things and having a great time photographing Africa. It was during this time that Photo-Africa was born out of a pure need for me to have a place where I could show people my images.
One thing led to the next and after a few years Photo-Africa grew into a site which featured a blog with daily posts on wildlife photography, a stock site where more than 90 photographers uploaded and showcased their images and a solid following.
During this time I was completely immersed in my photography. I had great subjects and light on an almost daily basis and filled a lot of memory cards as I kept on looking for better images.
The problem was, and this is something I think happens to a lot of photographers, I was so obsessed with my images and trying to improve them that I never sat back to reassess where I was as a photographer.
Don’t get me wrong, my photographic skills and photographs were improving as I spent a lot of time reading and trying new things but not as fast as they could have.
Fast forward another few years till today.
After leaving the lodge industry and recently merging Photo-Africa with Moya Wa Tenga, a travel and destination management company, things have changed.
I was amazed at how, since not being immersed in the bush anymore, my approach to my photography has changed. I see my subjects differently. I have different kinds of images in mind that I would like to get. I seem to appreciate the moments even more (if that’s possible) and I feel that I am creating better images than three months ago.
Apart from having that extra little bit of excitement when I head to the bush there is one other factor that has been a part of the change.
Yeah, people have changed the way I approach my wildlife photography and it is probably one of the things I would recommend to any new wildlife photographer out there.
Speak to people. Look at other people’s work. Interact with other photographers online. Read other photographers blogs.
Even though photography is a personal thing and originates somewhere deep inside us you cannot improve in a vacuum. You cannot expect to get better at what you do if you do it all on your own and you do not share your work. Talk about your work.
When Guy asked me to do a guest post he asked me to write at my photographic journey I was not quite sure where to start. You see, in my mind my journey has just begun and I still feel like I am learning everyday.
When I started out I did have certain goals but I don’t think I have reached any of them and the reason is that they change. Every time I click the shutter they change.
It might sound strange but the more I photograph the more I want to photograph. When you combine the fact that technology is changing all the time you end up with a constantly changing set of photographic possibilities. It’s awesome!
Through my blog on Wild Eye, our courses and photo expeditions I always try and share these thoughts with other photographers.
Shoot for yourself and what excites you. Don’t worry what other people say about your work. Take the constructive parts and ignore the rest. Wildlife photography is a fantastic journey, whatever your level of experience and sharing it with other people makes is even better!
I applaud Guy for putting together this website as it is a great way to change the way you look at your own photography. I would also like to thank Guy for allowing me to share some of my thoughts and images with you and look forward to doing so again in future!
Until next time.
Share the experience!
Gerry van der Walt