I am a conservationist and have been one for as long as I remember! The African bush stole my heart when my father introduced it to me before I could properly walk. He would carry me on his back when we spent glorious days tracking white rhino, stately herds of sable antelope and vast herds of Cape buffalo in the untamed wilderness of the Matobo hills in Zimbabwe with their mystical granite domes that shelters such exciting biodiversity and which are so steeped in human history. The challenge for my father, was to spend time slowly creeping up to and integrating into the herds that we were following without disturbing them so that he could photograph them. This taught me some of life’s greatest lessons about conservation, patience, observation, perseverance, honesty and hard work and of course it also taught me so much about animal behavior.
The rolls of films from those outings were then developed in the magic of the darkroom where strong smelling chemicals in different colored trays slowly brought the blank pieces of photo paper to life as the shades of greys, white and blacks formed into the moment of time captured with that press of the shutter. Many of those images taken by my father still have a special place in my house, hanging on the walls as a fond remembrance.
Those early experiences taught me to respect and tread lightly on the earth and by the age of five I was already determined to become a game ranger. My freedom is now the wilderness, listening to the rumbles from African elephants that communicate with one another, feeling the breath of the wind on the mountain tops, watching the glow of the dawn, inhaling the salt spray of the sea and always trying to understand the souls of all that breaths life. The outdoors are my creative space where I understand everything better and the cobwebs of conformity are blown away with my soul being refreshed, making me believe again and wanting to fight for what is right.
With the years having flown by, I now have over 30 years of experience in conservation in both the marine and terrestrial environments of Africa. I have been extremely privileged to have worked across the continent in some of its most special wild places, including the Gabonese and Mozambique forests, Angola’s and East Africa’s marine protected areas, the Kgalagadi and Namibia’s deserts, the bushveld of Zululand and the Kruger National Park, the mountains of the Drakensberg and the offshore islands of the Indian Ocean and the sub-Antarctic Prince Edward Islands. These amazing experiences have instilled in me a deep passion for Africa, its wild places and its peoples.
Working across these diverse habitats has allowed me to gain vast experience in all aspects of conservation management and I now provide strategic and operational conservation advise across the globe. My special interests include conservation related compliance & law enforcement, integrated ecosystem-based approaches to management, developing management strategies for rare and endangered species and capacity development of conservation personnel.
Through all of this, my camera is never far from my side and I now use photojournalism as a powerful tool, photographing and writing about the conservation and environmental issues on the African continent. I am honored to be a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and I am fortunate enough that my photography is internationally recognized, having won prestigious awards and having appeared across a wide range of global media.
The camera is for me a tool, a challenger, a relaxer and a platform for creativity. I do not worry about the technical details of an image but rather focus on creating art that is meaningful and which will sear a place in people’s memories. With the camera I try to become a messenger, hopefully exciting people and raising awareness. Photography is a quest to help me discover myself and to help me see if I can find those two or three images that somehow open my heart to honor the beauty of the infinite diversity of earth’s life, where I create an emotional relationship of understanding with the subjects that I am so passionate about supporting and conserving.
These images must then be the conduit that encourages us all to bring out our humanity towards one another and towards this fragile earth upon which our very own future wellbeing and survival depends. The images need to seduce my audience, to draw them closer, quickening hearts, sparking imagination and fuelling wonder. They need to have depth and soul and be saturated with life initiating deep thought, curiosity and respect. They must also showcase the environmental challenges in a way that they evoke the will to enable positive change. For me, it is critically important that my images honestly and respectfully tell the stories and emotions in a manner that holds absolute integrity without compromising my vision.
On equipment, the newest, fanciest, most technically advanced cameras and lenses do not make us better photographers. This equipment is only the tool that allows us to expose what our hearts and souls are trying to explain. We need a vision and the camera that we have in our hand at that time must allow us to achieve that vision.
My greatest hope is that through reading the stories and seeing the images on my website, people will be inspired to act and work towards ensuring that planet earth is made a better place and that its incredible biodiversity and ecosystems are positively protected!
About Conservation Photography:
Conservation photography is about a deep passion, a passion that makes one want to tell an impelling story that will effect positive environmental change! It is about using iconic and thought provoking images to be a voice for this fragile earth, its peoples, animals and plants.
Powerful images manage to break through all language barriers creating an awe and wonder that is enhanced by an understanding that can inspire us to action.
Conservation Photography is not just about the final image. It includes all the hours of preparation, planning, costs, time away from home, early mornings, late nights, frozen fingers, sunburnt faces, arduous hikes, tropical diseases and harsh environments in pursuit of a “mind blowing” image.