In 2001, I made a decision to quit a career in finance to pursue my dream of travelling Africa in a 4×4 Landcruiser. The sheer size and magnitude of this continent was overwhelming. I travelled the forests of Bwindi to the peaks of Kilimanjaro, to the shores of Lake Malawi and the red dunes of the Kalahari. I have spent many months in the African wilderness looking for that unique photograph to showcase the rich variety of wildlife and beautiful landscape that Africa has to offer.
Africa has become the new chapter in my life and I have dedicated the last 15 years photographing this diverse continent.
My dedication to the craft has been rewarded with publications in the National Geographic, Deutsche Geo and many others. My photographs have won numerous awards including the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of The Year in 2011 & 2013.
Photography has become my life, it maybe a cliché, but it’s true. I live and breathe photography. No matter where I am, “my minds eye” is making photographs. It has taught me to see the world in a different light, and for that, I am so grateful.
Recent assignment and what I was hoping to capture
In June, I spent a week on assignment for a client who asked me to photograph Ugandas Gorillas and Chimpanzees. The brief was to photograph the impact of conservation tourism on local communities and the Wildlife. It was a fantastic opportunity to photograph Mountain Gorillas, whose numbers are less than 1000 worldwide, and Chimpanzees whose numbers are under increasing threat from habitat lost due to logging and oil drilling.
When I photograph my subjects there are few things on my mind. First and foremost is the well being of my subjects, I never want them to feel threatened that they may enter a “fight or flight” scenario. The other is that I photograph my subjects aesthetically, so that my photographs resonate with the viewer.
On assignments there are always opportunities to photograph different subjects, on my photography wish list I have always wanted to photograph Fishermen casting nets from old wooden boats.
On this trip I had an hour waiting for our transport to a nearby island. It was a surreal morning with huge storm clouds approaching over calm waters. Local fishermen were fishing close by. I had one chance to get the photograph that I always wanted. I am glad to say I succeeded.
What kit did I take why?
Since 2007, up until last year, all my work was photographed with
pro DSLR body. To be honest, I was never truly happy with this bulky equipment, I would often come back from trips and be dissatisfied with the lack of sharpness and detail. This was mainly due to vibrations from the mirror and shutter.
I have been monitoring the mirrorless platform intensely over the last few years. When Fujifilm brought out the X-T1 and a lens roadmap, I got in contact with Fujifilm South Africa. I had a wonderful meeting with their team and I was convinced by their passion, commitment and dedication not just to the products, but to the Fujifilm community too. The support I have received from Fujifilm has been amazing and I’m so excited about the release of the upcoming “big lens” from Fujifilm. I am sure it will live up to my expectations.
On this trip I packed the following gear:
- 2 x Fujifilm X-T1’s
- Hard drives
- SD cards
- Spare batteries & chargers
I knew photographing the Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees was not just going to be a challenge physically for me, but also to push my Fujifilm equipment to the limits.
I have to admit, I was a little bit apprehensive but I needn’t have been. I cannot emphasise enough how well the X-T1 and the 50-140mm coped with low light, high contrast and wet, humid conditions. It performed beautifully.
Carrying these cameras and lenses around for hours while trekking the Chimpanzees and Gorillas I never once felt tired, or that my equipment was too heavy and cumbersome as it use to be in the past with my old DSLR.
Since I was working for a client, knowing whether the trip was a success or not was down to their reaction. I found my client to be ecstatic with the results, and so was I.
This trip put to bed any lingering thoughts I had about making the switch to Fujifilm “exclusively”. I love my Fujifilm equipment and I love being part of the Fujifilm family as Fujifilm’s X-shooter in South Africa.
First and foremost, enjoy your Photography.
Secondly, no matter how good you think you are as a photographer, you can always be better, never stop learning.
Thirdly, respect your subject, be ethical in your approach and remember your reputation is everything.
What’s next for me ?
I’m just back from a self imposed year off as I became a father for the first time. And I am now slowly weening myself off fatherhood and getting back out into the field.
Because I love to travel and explore, I am planning trips to Asia, Europe and of course my beloved Africa. I have further work booked with clients who love giving me challenging briefs. I am hoping to work with Fujifilm South Africa next year coinciding with the release of their “big lens”. I love sharing my stories and passion for my photography so I will be giving short presentations both locally and internationally.