Being so close to wild animals can be a very moving experience, what’s the most memorable scene you’ve witnessed?
I was really lucky last year to see Tira, the spotted zebra, in the Masai Mara. It’s one of, if not the first, recorded sighting of a melanistic zebra in this part of the world.
It took our safari group 4 hours of searching to find him as he was amongst the great migration, a never ending journey of 1.5 million wildebeest and 400,000 zebra. We were trying to spot one animal amongst almost two million, think "Where’s Wally” but with animals. We eventually found him but he was a very anxious foal, never straying too far from his mother. We had time to take a handful of photos before leaving him be and beginning the four hours back to camp. Incredibly on this drive we found a coalition of five cheetah (one of the largest ever documented) feeding on a wildebeest. To see one of these sightings is a once in a year story, to see two in the same day was exceptional.
What are your top tips for aspiring wildlife photographers?
Hard to say. It’s an incredible job but it is also your lifestyle, you live and breath what you do and often spend great lengths of time away from home (last year I was away for 8 of 12 months). You have to be prepared to not have the most exciting social life in the world in exchange for one of the best jobs in the world.
This should not discourage anyone though and one of the best things to do is get out and photograph locally. To pursue a career in photography you need a portfolio and it’s rare that someone will pay you to create one. I’ve spent a lot of time taking photos in Africa, but my favourite image is of a shaggy cow at home in the UK.
When building a portfolio, focus on things that you love and not what you think someone on social media will like. Your passion for your subject will shine through in your work and the more you enjoy something and the greater your knowledge on it the better your images will be. Once you have your portfolio, start to contact the people you want to work for/ with. By all means aim for the sky and try your hand with the Nat Geo’s and BBC’s of the world but there are thousands of conservation groups and safari lodges out there always looking for good quality content. Find their contact details, get in touch, show them your amazing portfolio and ask to work with them. I was extremely lucky with falling in to a job with Governors’ but I did 8 months of interning (stock checking the bar and cleaning shower heads) before becoming a photo guide.