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Through the viewfinder: wildlife photography

This blog was written by Skye Ludbrook, Bushwise student at our Mahlahla campus. Skye has a keen interest in photography and is currently completing the FGASA Field Guiding and Conservation Careers internship

3 min read

Looking through the viewfinder on your camera is an incredible ability. It replicates taking a split second out of a moment and viewing it from a completely different perspective. 

The power of a camera

Sometimes a moment just has to be captured in a photo. Like this beautiful sunset in the African savanna.

Wildlife and nature itself are overwhelming things to experience. Seeing how all the branches of life work together to create a sensational whole and being able to feel that sensation through a picture is beautiful. When making use of the artistic medium, you open up many doors in terms of making your game drive the best possible experience. 

Photography is a particularly important part of my life. It allows me to express emotions and experience through a visual source. When I look through my viewfinder I find an open space where I can encourage my creative side. Creativity is a vital aspect that all people should have in their lives. 

Wildlife photography in particular, is an exceptional way of sharing information to people all over the world. As a guide one of our roles is to play a part in the conservation of the natural environment. I feel that photography is the best way to reach out about conservation. 

Not only can you revisit that experience, but you also feel this sense of extreme focus. Taking photos of the environment around you allows you to feel abundantly engaged with what surrounds you and your experience. Over time those pictures will hopefully spark a focus on moments in your life that you never really focused on. 

As a guide it is important to try and know a little bit about all the aspects that come with the job. Having an understanding of photography is one of them as it will increase the quality of your drive for both you and most importantly your guests. 

Why photography is a useful guiding skill

A group of safari guests enjoying a sighting, while one takes photos with an impressive camera.

By knowing how photography works, you can be both a guide to people starting out as wildlife photographers and most importantly to your guests who are trying to capture memories of their life changing experience. 

You’ll be able to tell your guests what the best composition is for the image they want to take. You can guide them on the shutter speed (how fast or slow the shutter on your camera closes), the aperture they should set (the amount of focus the photo will show), and the ISO that should be used (this is dependent on the lighting you are in). 

Throughout your guiding career, you’ll learn and gain more experience. This time spent learning and growing your photographic skills will reflect positively on your photo outcomes and help you impart some of these skills to your guests.

: A spotted hyena runs in the background as guests observe from their game viewer.

By enriching their skills, you create an overall positive experience for them which they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. I look forward to seeing smiles on my future guests’ faces when they take an image they love. 

Capturing moments to last a lifetime

Photography is a wonderful skill to have as a wildlife enthusiast or safari guide; it allows you to capture moments and cherish them for years to come. 

Wildlife photography can be as simple as sharing content you captured of amazing sightings or as important as sharing information about animals that are in danger and need saving. Our society absorbs information primarily through visual content. Using my abilities and passion for photography and the natural environment around me, motivates me to use it to my advantage. 

I love capturing moments and being able to share them with the inquisitive people that make up the world, and I hope you find your spark to make a difference through your viewfinder. If you need a little extra inspiration, consider applying for a Bushwise course and take your wildlife photography to the next level.

Words by Skye Ludbrook, photos by Louise Pavid




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