“Photography is a love affair with life.”
To all the photography enthusiasts, these words will resonate deeply!!
Photography is the art of capturing the beauty of life, the act of appreciating ‘the moment,’ as it comes to us in different ways and places in life. It is about an unending commitment to the moment as it happens, forever.It is entwined with time, those fleeting moments of life captured in a frame forever, set in amber for eternity
Observing these moments is an art, finding the interesting in the common places. It has little to do with the things you see, but everything to do with how you perceive your surroundings, give shape to your imagination and create a masterpiece of your work through diligent practice and dedication.
The camera is a sketch book, the instrument of intuition and spontaneity, capturing images sketched on the canvas of imaginations. This is where the creativity, the understanding of a photographer comes into play.
And with that it can be said, it is not about great photographs, but about a great photographer.
Today on The Uncommon Box, we are focusing on one genre of photography, Wildlife photography and one great photographer!!
Wildlife photography is a type of photography that focuses on taking photographs of wildlife, or non-domesticated animals. This type of photography is important not only for its artistic value, but also for its scientific value as well. This is a specialised area in which photographs of these animals are taken in natural settings, without any props.
Wildlife photographers are some of the world’s most valued professionals. Providing images of animals in their natural habitat are essential to science, education and conservation efforts etc. Having the patience and the ability to work in uncertain conditions is required to succeed in this genre of photography. Nature and wild animals are rather difficult to predict. When the time comes for a perfect shot, a wildlife photographer has only one chance to capture it, they must be ready in an instant, since wild animals aren’t likely to repeat an action simply because the photographer didn’t get the shot they wanted. It is a gruelling task indeed!!
Presenting today on TUB, someone who makes it look so easy and fun!!
The Uncommon Box is proud to feature the famed and award-winning wildlife photographer and cinematographer Shannon Benson, also known by her brand name Shannon Wild !!!
She has made waves in the photography world, by getting into the frame with wild animals, all the while documenting these majestic animals and contributing to their conservation and rehabilitation.
Do you know ?
Shannon has walked hand in trunk with an elephant and has even been licked by a leopard, all while she was out on a safari!!
Wildlife photography is a demanding vocation, and to approach animals for photographs, to get a good frame is physically and mentally taxing, not to mention that animals are wary of humans.
Hides are used to conceal humans from animals to get access to their space, concealing form and movement.
And here you have Shannon, doing the unbelievable!!
Her brilliant photographers show how up close and willing her subjects are willing to get when allowed to be approached. Though she admits the smaller animals do cause a lot of problems climbing all over her equipment!!
This is so courageous and uncommon that we are honoured to have her talk to us about her work and life as a wildlife photographer and cinematographer!!
So here we go off to the chartered, unchartered terrains of Shannon Wild’s World of Wildlife photography!!
#TUB : Tell us something about yourself !!!
I am from Australia but now based in South Africa, although I’m not there much as I am constantly travelling for work as a wildlife photographer and cinematographer.
#TUB : How did you get into photography? Any training helped you in the course of your career?
I am a self-taught photographer and cinematographer. I started out taking pictures of my pets as a hobby and fell in love with it, so tried to learn as much as possible through books and magazines (internet access was not yet common at that stage) and of course lots of practicing, making mistakes and learning from them. That is the key, to go out and shoot as much as possible.
#TUB : How do you stay motivated? What keeps the creativity flowing in respect to photography?
I am constantly challenging myself, so that helps to keep me motivated. I still have so much to see and learn and that excites me. I am extremely passionate about my work and keen that my work paves the way to the conservation of wildlife, and survival of their habitats.
#TUB : Why did you choose Wildlife photography? Was this your first choice as a vocation?
Animals have always been a passion of mine so that was a given. Photography came secondary and asa way to express my love for animals creatively. I had a career as a graphic designer and art director before pursuing photography full time.
#TUB : What inspires you and how do you bring that into your work?
Apart from the fact that I adore being in the wild with animals, I am particularly inspired to share my images and footage with as many people as possible in the hope of bringing the incredible beauty of the natural world to a broad audience and ignite a sense of passion in people to protect this beautiful world and the wildlife in it.
#TUB : Who would you be without photography? What would you be doing then?
Take photography away and I would still have to somehow be working with animals, preferably in the wild or some sort of conservation based career.
#TUB : What type of camera do you use? Any favourite lens and why do you think it is the best one for a capture?
There is no one camera or lens combination that suits every situation in wildlife photography and cinematography. One of the things that I love about this job that it is constantly changing. It is dynamic. I love shooting with a shallow depth of field so I love fast lenses, f4 and lower.
#TUB : How much research do you put in before heading to shoot out in the wild? Do you plan specifically or just go with the flow?
Great question! Overall it is a mix of both. Sometimes I am shooting in locations or animals that I already know a lot about and at other times I need to research in advance, if possible.
My lifestyle involves a lot of travelling, often to remote areas, which means I do not have access to the internet.
Learning about animal behaviour is extremely important so as to safely work and capture images that engage.
#TUB : How important is post processing workflow to getting your vision come true? What are the tools you use for the editing process?
I shoot in the RAW format so processing my images is a necessary part of the process, just like the darkroom was for film. I use Adobe Lightroom to manage all of my images and make adjustments.
I have created a specific preset that I apply on import to speed up the process as I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to processing.Efficiency and consistency are the key. I add some contrast, saturation and sharpening to all images.
#TUB : Whose work has influenced you the most? What is that you learnt in the course of your career that you didn’t know when you started?
I have been influenced by many great photographers, known and unknown in all genres, not just wildlife.
I would try to tell my younger, inexperienced self not to put too much pressure on myself and enjoy the journey, that great things come with time.
#TUB : Do you have suggestions or any advice for beginners in wildlife photography that would help in improving their photography?
The only advice is that to practice!
This is not a rocket science, the things you invest your time in, you will become better at. Take the time to get out there and practice, make mistakes, learn from them and practice more. Don’t be in such a hurry. Take your time, enjoy the learning process. You don’t have to know everything at once. There are certain things that can be learnt only with time and practice. It has taken me 15 years to get to where I am, there are things that you cannot rush.
Wild life photography is an exacting profession requiring patience, commitment and unwavering enthusiasm. The long hours, difficult terrains are not a cakewalk, requiring a high degree of professionalism.
Shannon goes out of her way to capture the perfect image!!
The South African photographer says she has been bitten ‘countless times’ by snakes and lizards while on a shoot !!
Here it is in her own words!!
‘I’ve been bitten in the face by a dog, charged by an elephants, lions and buffalo, bitten countless times by snakes and lizards, and mauled by a cheetah, but it doesn’t discourage me.
‘The way I look at it though is, you shouldn’t be a chef if you don’t ever want to get a burn from hot food and wildlife photography is the same.
‘I’m excited by every encounter that I have am surprisingly calm in most situations, even when tracking a lion on foot. (Check the Pictures Here)
We have to add nerves of steel to the list too!!
Apart from her astounding work as a wildlife photographer and cinematographer, Shannon also designs her Wild In Africa jewellery range @shannonwildjewelleryinspired by nature.
The wonderful part is that it raises money for wildlife conservation, specifically for @wildtomorrowfund who focus on land acquisition, anti-poaching and education! A percentage of every purchase is donated to a select group of wildlife conservation organisations that Shannon Wild works directly with, ensuring funds are used for the benefit of endangered wildlife and their precious habitats through projects such as land acquisition and restoration, wildlife rehabilitation, anti-poaching and education program.
Follow her amazing work and see for yourself !!!
After talking to Shannon about her work, We, at The Uncommon Box are truly inspired!
We are inspired by the journeys she has undertaken in her pursuit of perfection in her profession in-spite of all the odds, making it seem so simple with the ease of her brilliance in her work. Nothing is there that cannot be achieved with grit and determination.
There is a bigger purpose in her passion for her line of work, to help the preservation and conservation of wildlife, the education of people to treasure the life that is around us.
Her photographs are a rallying cry to save the planet from the loss of these beautiful animals through our greed and voracity to destroy everything that lies in our path.
“Be inspired by your journeys travelled and ones yet to come”.
Follow your passion, seek the uncommon from the common, be it any field! Raise the bar for your achievements. Find the purpose in your passion, and go for it!
What are you waiting for?!
We, here at TUB are always on the lookout for creativity that astounds, is different, is out of the box, is like us, uncommon!!
Share with us your works in any genre, medium of art, be it photography, paintings, poetry, sculptures, calligraphy, animation, anything!!
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