While Covid is a worldwide pandemic, most remote African countries have had fewer cases than Europe or the USA. The thing to remember is that all the best African photo safaris include your own exclusive safari truck and we request private dinning. All activities are ‘open air’ and socially distanced. Temperatures are taken everyday in camps and sanitiser stations are in place.
On my African photographic safaris we fly in small planes, from small airports, and my safaris, like all the best African wildlife photography safaris, are conducted in remote locations with low population densities. African photographic safaris are in their very nature ‘socially distanced’ and conducted in an open air environment. You will feel a lot safer on African photographic safaris than most other places and your biggest decision is therefore whether you feel comfortable traveling to Africa? Once you get to Africa and your safari commences, all your Covid requirements and protocol will be taken care of. If your safari involves more than one African country, Covid testing will be arranged for you and in a most convenient way. Testing is mostly done in the safari camps and we will arrange testing before you finish your African photographic safari for your onward travel home.
Ebola should not in any way be factored into your decision making process for any of the African photographic safaris or workshops that I offer because I sell scheduled safaris in Kenya, Tanzania and Southern Africa. There have hardly been any cases in these regions ever.
Terrorism is truly a global issue and the only safari country regularly plagued by this is Kenya. Unfortunately for Kenya, which is one of the best countries in Africa for a safari, the media has really done their tourism and wildlife a grave injustice by way of sensationalism. The terrorism in Kenya has been solely targeted towards the Kenyan citizens themselves and no tourist destinations have ever been targeted. The few kidnapping cases, from years gone by, all occurred on the coast and we do not go near the coastline on African photographic safaris. On the safaris that I list, we do not go into the Nairobi city centre at all. The best African wildlife photography safaris go straight from the international airport, located out of town, to boutique lodges on the outskirts of town. We use highway bypasses and do not pass through the city at all. To get to our safari destinations we fly in and out of a small airport called Wilson, also on the outskirts of town. We do not do any shopping and we spend our time out in the bush on safari.
The threat of terrorism is therefore negligible and sitting reading this wherever you are in the world, you are probably closer to a major terrorist threat than you will be in Africa. Please do not boycott Kenya as its wildlife needs you to come on safari and this is arguably the best country in Africa for a safari. Tourism is the only future that wildlife has in Africa. From my experience, the best time to go on safari to Kenya is when the masses are avoiding it, due to ignorance and false reporting. At these times you have the whole place to yourself. Thankfully all the other safari destinations I travel to have had no terrorist attacks. Countries like Botswana and Namibia which offer some of the best African photo safaris must surely rank among some of the safest destinations in the world.
A photographic safari is a safari specifically designed and executed with photographers in mind. This plays out in many different ways and the best African wildlife photography safaris are nuanced, keep reading for more.
Yes, I certainly do but I do not advertise my private safaris as each is custom-designed. However, remember that any of my African photographic safari itineraries, including my Masai Mara photo safari, Okavango Delta photo safari and this Africa photo safari in the form of a Africa photo workshop can be booked privately. Another option is to book a spot on any one of these scheduled safaris and then to do a private extension after. This then allows you to join a scheduled African photographic safari and then to have a private photographic safari experience after. See my Kenya extensions page for exciting ways to extend your Masai Mara photo safari, including a ‘best Amboseli photo safari‘.
Also see my Southern Africa extensions page which includes some of the very best private Africa photo safari experiences. If you wanting a bespoke private photographic safari throughout, then on my ‘Bespoke Best Of Africa‘ page I share with you my thoughts on each country, and I include a gallery from each too. If you have ever wondered which is the best country in Africa for a safari then be sure to give this private African photography safari page a read. If you would like to travel alone or with a friend, spouse or your own group, I can arrange a private safari for you. In this case we will rework a costing depending on your group size and we will tailor an itinerary just for you. We can look at different dates if need be or you can book the same scheduled safaris advertised on this website and just have it run as a private safari. I have a few clients that are very serious photographers and which solicit my services to lead them on private safaris to build there portfolios but mostly I just have people who, like me, love nature and love photography. These photographers come on private photographic safaris to get the most out of the experience and we have a good mixture of fun, combined with serious photography. I also guide families from time to time which is great fun, and I cater for all levels of photographers.
You can email me from my contact page. Let me know what country or region you are interested in and what wildlife you are wanting to photograph. For some suggestions, see my private African photography safari page. I insist on only offering my clients the best African wildlife photography safaris and as such, the best time to go on safari is key when assessing where you should go on your private photographic safari. Please therefore let me know what time of year you prefer to travel so that I can assess which African country is the best.
When you email me also kindly give me an outline of your expectations in terms of the accommodation. Are you wanting a luxury lodge experience (like this South Africa photo safari), or a uber-comfortable canvas experience (like this Botswana photo safari), or a traditional mobile adventure (like this Kenya photo safari), or a combination any of these? The more you tell me about your expectations and needs, the better I can tailor your private photographic safari. I will use my intimate knowledge of the continent, camps/lodges and wildlife, to make recommendations. Another vital bit of information that I will need to know in order to compile your private photographic safari itinerary, is if you are traveling on your own or with a partner, or in a group? This affects charter flight costs as well as the cost of securing an exclusive safari truck. Once we agree on a basic outline for your private photographic safari, you will receive a fully customised itinerary and cost. This is all done without you needing to commit in any way.
A private photographic safari costs in the region of US$50 000 for a single photographer. Of course the cost will vary depending on the choice of camps and the duration of your private photographic safari. We always send an obligation free quotation and itinerary, so don’t be shy to get in touch. If you trying to keep the cost below $25 000 then join me on one of my scheduled African photographic safaris.
The ‘Bespoke Best Of’ concept has proven to be wonderfully effective way of offering private photographic safaris. What I have found over the years is that photographers who sign up for private safaris are the kind who return to Africa more than once. So, instead of flitting about from one iconic destination to another, I designed the ‘Bespoke Best Of’ safari concept. What this means is that you knock off one country at a time on your your private photographic safari. The advantage of this is that you will get to enjoy and photograph the iconic destinations in that country but also the off-the-beaten-track locations. If you think about it, if you only go on private photographic safaris to iconic destinations, these are the places every other photographer goes, and so you will land up getting shots like everyone else.
The ‘Bespoke Best Of’ private photographic safaris are usually longer and if you stick to the ‘best of’ plan, you will get the best results from each country and from the continent as a whole. I have designed incredible ‘Bespoke Best Of’ safari itineraries for almost every country. You can read about these and see a gallery for each on my private African photography safari page. There is a contact form at the bottom of the page, so get in touch once you have decided which country you would like to make your ‘Bespoke Best Of’ choice for your private photographic safari.
Traditionally an African photographic safari does not have a formal time set aside for a presentation or a lesson. A photo safari is therefore more about being out in the field and photographing. An Africa photo workshop however, is traditionally more focused on teaching photography and techniques. The actual taking of photos then takes on a more educational role to teach and explain, as apposed to actually capturing award winning imagery.
A few years ago I asked the simple question, ‘Why can’t you have both?’ As a result, each one of my African photographic safaris or workshops is a combination of both a safari and a workshop. I tailor the trip to your exact needs; some of you would really like to learn and improve your photography and as such you require me to engage with you in a more formal time of learning. For others, going on an African photographic safari is more about capturing that special image and as such, I make it my duty to place you in the correct position to capture the action and beauty of each special moment. Still others require a combination of both and this I also facilitate seamlessly.
The reason I call my scheduled Kenya photo safari to the Masai mara a ‘safari’ is that due to the nature of photography in this ecosystem, we are generally out longer in the mornings, spending about 10 hours per day on the great plains. Therefore, there is often not a suitable time to have a formal type of lesson or a feedback session in camp. On this particular African photographic safari then, the photographic tuition takes on a more fluid and dynamic form, taking place mostly in the field, and hence the reason for me labelling it a ‘safari’ and not a ‘workshop’.
The driving distances for my Botswana and South Africa big cat photography workshop are shorter than in the Masai Mara and on this trip there is usually an hour or two free after lunch. This time lends itself beautifully to me teaching a practically relevant lesson on photography. During this time I can also give you feedback on your images. Although labelled a ‘workshop’, this trip guarantees exceptional predator and big game photographic opportunities. So calling it a workshop does in no way lessen the photographic results you will get. Think of it as an African photographic safari with formal photography lessons included. You still go home with full memory cards but also having learnt more about photography by way of formal lessons. In practice, the best African wildlife photography safaris are a blend of a traditional safari experience and of a workshop or learning component.
I have lead countless safaris across the African continent and hosted dozens upon dozens of photographers from different countries and backgrounds, each with his or her own level of experience and photographic aspirations. One thing I have come to realize is what photographers want on an African photographic safari and in short, photographers want photographs! But not just any photographs, they want awesome photographs. In order for me to be able to guarantee my clients awesome imagery, there are very special criteria that need to be met on each of my African photographic safaris. Let me list just a few of them:
1. There simply needs to be a plethora of wildlife and this immediately excludes most ecosystems from being placed on a ‘best African photo safari’ itinerary.
2. Secondly, you need to be based in a camp or lodge that allows quick and easy access to special photographic opportunities because, remember, it is all about the light. The location of most safari camps actually exclude them being paced used on the best African photo safaris.
3. We need freedom to be able to drive off road as much as possible and this excludes many parks and reserves from being used on my African photographic safaris.
4. We need to avoid other vehicles so that we can change positions and work a particular angle and wildlife sighting. Low tourist volumes are a critical element of the best African wildlife photography safaris.
5. You need to see wildlife action and this means that many of the remoter quieter destinations cannot be included on an African photographic safari.
6. If you are traveling all the way to Africa on an African photographic safari, you want to leave with dynamic photographs of all the predators and big game. This means that we need to be able to not only find these creatures, but as photographers, we also need to get close to them. It does not help seeing a leopard a mile away. This again excludes many locations from being included on the best African photo safaris.
7. Being in the right area is not enough, the best time to go on safari is also critical. Every country and ecosystem offers photographers different photographic elements and opportunities, depending on the season and time of year. The best African wildlife photography safaris always take this into account.
8. The vehicles and driver guides at each camp are both essential components of a successful African photographic safari and these all important factors need to be carefully factored in when considering what is the best African photographic safari to do? For example on this Africa photo safari only open vehicles are used and with no roofs or poles to obstruct photography, you can photograph leopards in trees.
9. As wildlife photographers, we do not want to photograph in contrived circumstances. We want to photograph in Africa’s largest ecosystems where the animals roam wild and free. This criteria excludes the smaller and more canned wildlife locations from making it onto a ‘best African wildlife photography safari’ itinerary.
10. Photographers also do not want to shoot cliched imagery and as such you need freedom to explore and to seek out unique opportunities. You need to be able to venture off the beaten track, away from other tourists on your African photographic safari. You want to finish your safari with unique images that you can enter into the NHM Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
When you add all above points together, there are really only a handful of locations and camps to combine on the best African photo safaris. I have visited almost all Africa’s safari locations and I have photographed most of them extensively. At the end of the day, the African photographic safaris that I offer are the only ones that I feel will satisfy any and every kind of wildlife photographer.
Like so many places in Africa, it is local knowledge and insight that will determine the outcome of your African photographic safari experience. I have lived in Africa my entire life and been in the safari industry for 25 years. During this time I have learnt how to not only offer the ultimate wildlife experience on my African photographic safaris but how also to get away from the crowds. I do this by carefully selecting my camps and by knowing which areas are busy, and where we can get away from the traffic and photograph in peace. The camps I use on all my Africa photo safaris and workshops offer us quick access to the wildlife and also afford us the opportunity to get away from the heavy traffic.
The Masai Mara is 1500 square kilometers big and I know how to take you to the far flung corners, to places where the photo opportunities are excellent. This is also why I use a mobile camp in a remote part of the reserve on my Masai Mara photo safari. The Masai Mara is the wildlife mecca of Africa and one should not avoid it but rather learn how to operate successfully in what is Africa’s best ecosystem for wildlife photography. The location of the camps I use and the intimate knowledge I have of the reserve are what make this an authentic African photographic safari. The only time you are forced to see lots of vehicles is at river crossings but other than that we can get away from the worst of the traffic. The Masai Mara truly does belong on any ‘best African wildlife photography safari’ itinerary.
Then Mala Mala is in no way touristy. Yes you get a ‘big five certificate’ but that is about where the touristy bit ends and at least you are guaranteed of seeing the Big Five roaming wild and free, which is hard to do anywhere else on an African photographic safari. At Mala Mala you will only ever have at the most two other vehicles on a sighting. In reality you will often be alone at a sighting as Mala Mala is situated on private land and no other safari vehicles from other camps are allowed to drive in the central part of the reserve. It is also the largest piece of private land in the area, which means we can go exploring without seeing anyone else. Mala Mala forms part of one of Africa’s largest parks, bigger even than the Serengeti National Park. Where else in Africa can you be guaranteed of seeing the big five (including the endangered rhinoceros) and also be guaranteed of not seeing more than two other vehicles at any one sighting? Mala Mala is one of the very few locations in Africa that is both a wilderness and a photographer’s mecca, making it a top South Africa photo safari destination.
Each one of my listed safaris and workshops (see the drop down menu at the top of the page) are absolute ‘must do’ African photographic safaris and that is why I only list a handful. Each one is a best African wildlife photography safari and each safari is totally different to the next and all offer you the best African photo safari experience. Don’t stress about which is the best country in Africa for a safari as they are all incredible. The best time to go on safari is much more important than asking ‘which African country is best for safaris?’ The time of year is different for each of my African photographic safaris, so depending on when you plan on traveling, the below African photographic safari calendar can help you decide which safari to book or join.
January: Masai Mara photo Safari
February/March: Leopards of Londolozi
April: Okavango Delta photo safari
May: best Serengeti photo safari (and Ngorongoro)
July: Kenya migration photo safari (with Rift Valley flamingoes)
August- Sep: These are the prime months for a private African photography safari including a private Namibia wildlife photo safari (including the Hoanib Skeleton Coast) or a Zimbabwe private photo safari. It is also a great time of year to book a Botswana private photo safari.
October: This is a hot month in Africa and the best time for a luxury African photo safari to South Africa. Alternatively, if you want to rough it in the heat and dust, it is the time for a best private photo safari to Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park.
Nov – early Dec: This is a great time for a private African photography safari to Kenya with all the wonderful Kenya extensions on offer plus a mountain gorilla photo safari. It is also an awesome time for my Masai Mara photo safari.
Late December is not advisable as Africa is full of tourists.
Beyond the above, I am afraid I cannot make the decision for you. I have however included as much information as possible, along with galleries and itineraries for my Africa photo safaris and workshops to help you as much as possible. You can also read the ‘Why this is the safari for you’ segment at the bottom of each safari page. After living in Africa my entire life and working as a safari guide, then as a safari camp manager and now as a professional wildlife photographer, I have narrowed all my experiences down to just a handful of African photographic safaris. Each one is incredible so get in touch now to book your African photographic safari.
You simply complete the booking enquiry form that every safari page on my website has. You will find it at the bottom of each page. I will then reply to your email and introduce you to my agent who will handle the paperwork for the safari and who will send you an exact itinerary, cost and booking form. When you land in Africa, I will be there to greet you and from that point on I will be your personal host, guide and photographic tutor until the very end of your African photographic safari.
As a working professional wildlife photographer I am out the office more than I am in the office and in order for me to offer you a truly professional service, I have chosen to work with an agent for all my African photographic safaris. But, it must be said that I do not just work through any agent. Currently I work only through two agents, depending on the location of the safari. These agents act as ground-handlers and I know each personally. Both are highly specialised companies that cater for the best Africa photo safaris. By using these agents, you can still benefit by having a working professional wildlife photographer as your personal host and safari guide, but you need not endure a substandard booking experience and please believe me, my administrative skills are substandard.
Working through my agents does not add to the cost of your safari because the agents I use do not add a fee on top of what the safari camps charge you. Each agent rather collects a commission from the camps/lodges. It is standard practice that safari camps will offer agents between 10-30% commission on bookings and this is where the agents make their money. This means that you are paying the same rate per person per night at a safari camp or lodge that you would, even if you booked the African photographic safari yourself.
The only catch is that each of my agents charge a flat administration fee for handling the booking and logistics of your safari. Depending on the length of your African photographic safari this fee will vary, but a 9 day safari will carry an average administration cost of around US$400. This is a once off fee for your entire safari. For this administration fee you get all the logistics taken care of, including the booking of all internal transfers, flights with special luggage allowances, private vehicles and meet and greet services. You also get peace of mind which allows you to relax and enjoy your African photographic safari knowing everything is taken care of and should something go wrong, you have a ‘go to person’ on the ground in Africa. The agent then builds my travel costs into the overall cost of your safari and I am booked into the camps as a pilot/guide, which means I get charged a fraction of the full tourist rate.
I travel with an entire workshop on my laptop and during the trip I will monitor your progress and I will present topics that will challenge and motivate you, and take your imagery to the next level. I will also address any problem areas that you might have plus give you feedback on your own images. This is all done in a relaxed manner and usually in the library or a quiet corner of the camp or lodge. I find that a good time to meet is before the afternoon safari drive. I like to give you a masterclass on autofocus early on, to make sure that we iron out any major problems, so that you can be sure to capture great images from the start of your African photographic safari.
By the end I will have taught you everything you need to know to take images like a professional wildlife photographer. While on safari drive I will share my settings with you but I will not at any stage force you to shoot the way I do. I will also teach you how to use your flash and how to shoot in low light conditions. I published a 13 page portfolio for the BBC Wildlife Magazine documenting the nocturnal lives of leopards and low light photography is my real specialty. On a safari or workshop we will use the same modes operandi that I use to get my imagery. See my wildlife prints page.
Well my answer to this is simple: An African safari is not cheap in anyone’s language or currency. For you to travel all this way to learn how to shoot would not be fair. Likewise, for you to travel all this way only to take images that are no good would also not be right. My aim is for you to travel all this way and to not only learn more about photography but to also go home with a portfolio of wonderful, dynamic and powerful photographs. I have the experience to facilitate both and therefore I offer you both on my African photographic safaris.
First and foremost, I am from Africa. Not only was I born in Africa but my family has been here for 11 generations. Africa is my home and when you travel with me, you are a guest in my home. I delight in showing and sharing my home with you on my African photographic safaris and each is a personalised and hospitable experience. As we say in Swahili, ‘Karibu Sana’ which means ‘You are very welcome’!
Secondly, not only have I been in Africa my entire life but I have been working permanently in the African safari industry since 1996 when I was 18 years old. I started out as a walking safari guide before meeting my wife, Claire. We then teamed up to manage safari camps in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. During this time I gleaned valuable insight into geographic locations and safari camps, which I have used to design the best African wildlife photography safaris.
Thirdly, all my African photographic safari itineraries are designed by myself personally, and specifically with photographers in mind. But, and this is where I differentiate from the competition, my aim is to place my clients in locations and positions where they are able to shoot award winning images as apposed to cliche-type shots. As a result of this I only sell a small handful of the best African photo safaris and each promises to place you in the very best locations on the continent for wildlife photography and at the exact right times, so that you can create unique and powerful imagery.
Ok, for the left-brained:
– My African photographic safaris take you to the very best ecosystems in Africa for photography. This sounds obvious right but you will be surprised how many famous ecosystems in Africa actually produce very few solid photographic opportunities.
– My African photographic safaris then visit these ecosystems at the optimum time of year for photography. This knowledge has been collected over many years of getting it wrong as a professional wildlife photographer, in my personal capacity. You cannot afford to get it wrong on your trip of a lifetime! I have a deep understanding of when and where to visit the right location on African photographic safaris, to get unique imagery. See my wildlife prints and decide if you agree?
– For my African photographic safaris I only use safari camps that are located in the heart of the wildlife action. This is an all too often neglected point, as one really needs to know an area well before one is able to identify where the best wildlife photography happens. You will again be surprised how many safari camps are not located in the best concessions or heart of the action.
– On my African photographic safaris you will have exclusive use of a vehicle and this is essential to being able to capture unique images. My trips have only 3 photographers per vehicle so you get an entire row to yourself. You can place your spare cameras and gear next to you, and you can shoot out the left and the right.
– As far as possible I try to place you in locations that allow off-road driving, as freedom and flexibility are key to creating powerful imagery. After years of African photographic safari travel, I have learnt where off-road driving is allowed or tolerated.
– My African photographic safaris (including my private photographic safaris) take you to the exact locations that I travel to in my personal capacity as a professional wildlife photographer, when I am shooting for a book project or for award winning images. See my book page here…
– When on an African photographic safari I place you in positions where you can shoot the same type of wildlife imagery that I do. See my GDT Signature Collection of African wildlife fine art photography to get a feel for my style.
– The African photographic safaris I offer, I have been on many times before in my personal capacity and I am not using these safaris as a tool to travel to see new places.
– As a professional photographer I am totally willing to share my knowledge with you and since we are in my backyard, I am not competing with you. I want you to finish your African photographic safari with exceptional images.
– The secret to my photography is that I get it right in the field and in the camera. I read light and animal behaviour to achieve results straight out the camera. This is my philosophy and believe it or not, it is a different approach, especially in a world where photographers are shooting on as many auto settings as possible and then focusing most of their attention on post processing techniques in front of their computer. My ability to achieve my results in the camera is what won me the Wildlife Photographer of the Year where you have to submit your RAW files. My second published book is even titled ‘Getting It Right In Camera’.- While photography is the focus of my African photographic safaris, I believe that to be a great wildlife photographer you need to be passionate about your subjects and their environments. You need to enjoy just being out there. My ultimate goal besides making sure that you finish your trip with wonderful images, is to respect nature and to share my passion with you for the great outdoors and for Africa’s splendid creatures. All the best African wildlife photography safaris should do this.
– Being a photographer myself I understand what a critical issue the safari truck and space is on any African photographic safari. This is why I limit my safaris to just 3 photographers per vehicle and why I use open safari trucks where possible, to avoid you having to shoot from the roof, and getting a top down perspective on your subjects.
– I keep my African photographic safaris small and limited to just one safari truck. You receive one-on-one tuition based on your skill level and aligned with your interests. I don’t run big groups where you get bounced around from one photographer to the next.
– I understand that photographers want unique shots and I have learnt over the years to visit various ecosystems outside of the conventional times of year. Not only does this mean you can avoid traffic but you also avoid getting conventional photographic results. Very few photographers have the intimate knowledge that is required to do this and only the best African photo safaris take you to iconic destinations at different times to the rest.
Yes I do and that is because I love photography. I have reached a point in my career where it is extremely difficult to obtain unique imagery for my African portfolio. I aim for just 6 new images a year for my portfolio from Africa and maybe another six that I am prepared to publish. My entire ‘GDT Master Prints’ collection consists of a small portfolio of limited edition wildlife prints. To rectify this, I am branching out in my personal capacity and looking for projects outside of Africa, like bears in Finland and musk oxen in Norway. I am also seeking out new projects in Africa like the bat migration and Ethiopian wolves. Despite this, I always have my camera handy as one just never knows when a great shot will turn up on an African photographic safari.
On your African photographic safari I will sit in the passenger seat of the safari vehicle where I work closely with the local driver guide to ensure that you are in the right position for each shoot, so that you are be able to capture unique behavioural opportunities and lighting. By sitting next to the driver I use my experience of animal behaviour to make sure we move ahead of the action and that we are properly positioned. Buy having only 3 photographers on the truck, you all sit on the same side and I make sure that you are lined up correctly for each shot.
Photographing for me is like breathing and something I do everyday. Even if I am photographing you are free to ask me any questions that you have and while I shoot I will call out my camera settings for you. If you get stuck, I will of course put my camera down to help you. I believe that through me photographing you benefit more from my skills as a professional wildlife photographer because while I photograph I share with you my thoughts. I caution you regarding potential issues around exposure, depth of field, shutter speed, composition and focusing.
No, the front passenger seat has a good angle and that is the only advantage. Sitting in front you are unable to shoot out of the right side at all because the driver is in your way. Shooting out the front is also difficult due to aerials, tracker seats, mirrors, rifles and windshields. On a Mala Mala photo safari you have an aerial to the front right and the driver right next to you, making shooting very difficult. In East Africa, you have a windscreen blocking your entire front view. When sitting in the front there is also only room for one big lens and you cannot have your camera bag handy. In the Land Rovers you can only fit a 400mm on your lap as anything longer hits the dashboard.
By sitting in front I am able to direct the driver quickly and easily, which benefits your photography. To get the ultimate shot on an African photographic safari you need to quickly assess a scene and move ahead of the action. If I sit on the back I need to shout to the driver whereas next to him I can often just gesture with my hands. Sitting in front I can also hear the radio and liaise with the guide regarding how to rotate into sightings so that we get to the action in the best possible light. Having worked as a guide I know the tricks of the trade but I need to sit in front to execute them.
Obtaining award winning wildlife imagery entails far more than just having the correct camera settings. Knowledge of how wild animals behave and being positioned correctly are both of vital importance. I have the necessary wildlife and photographic experience to put you in the right place at the right time as often as possible, but to do this I sit in front so that I can direct the driver easily and quickly. Time is of the essence when working with wild animals and sitting in front I will make sure that the vehicle is optimally positioned to give you the best chance of getting that award winning shot on your African photographic safari.
The best African photo safaris only have 3 photographers per vehicle so that you can shoot out the left and right. If you would prefer a lower angle, then simply shoot off a beanbag placed on the seat next to you. I run my safaris in remoter places with less vehicle traffic and whenever possible I will allow you to jump out of the truck and shoot from the ground (although this is not something I should advertise so please keep it our little secret).
For all my safaris I only have 3 photographers per vehicle and what we do is each photographer sits on the left-hand side of the vehicle. This way I can line you all up easily and quickly for that award winning shot. Having your own row means you can also shoot out the right as there will be times when it is impossible to position the left-hand side of the truck to face the action. To keep it fair we change seats for every safari drive and by moving one seat forward each time, you will get to shoot in each seat. When you get to the front, you then start at the back again. This way no one feels like they are always in the worst seat on their African photographic safari.
Please note that on a Mashatu photo safari there is a tracker who sits on the back of the safari truck. This tracker helps us find photographic subjects and also directs the driver. When sitting in the back row, you will share that row with the tracker but this need not be a disadvantage as the tracker will always duck out of your way if you are shooting out the right-side. You can also get him to hold your spare camera and lens or even your flash. If you do not want the tracker to join us then please specify this to me before booking. In Londolozi the tracker sits on the front of the bonnet and in big cat sightings will climb on the back but he will not be a hindrance. Other listed safari locations do not have trackers but if its a concern then please check in with me when booking your African photographic safari.
If you bring a non photographing spouse along then you two will need to share a row so as not to hinder the other photographers. If you a photographer concerned about non photographing partners joining then please specify this when booking so that we can make sure you on a tour with no non-photographing spouses. Most photographers travel alone or both shoot if they are a couple, and therefore each is booked as a photographer – meaning that they have there own row. Non-photographing spouses are therefore rarely an issue.
If you, for medical reasons, have to sit in a certain seat on your African photographic safari then you please need to book a private African photography safari.
Every photographic company has their own recipe and I cannot speak for other companies, I can only speak for myself and for my recipe, and this to only have 3 photographers on a vehicle so that each photographer can shoot out of the left and right side of the safari truck. I sit in front where I am not only out of your way but I am able to effectively communicate with the guide. When I spot potential photographic opportunities I help too quickly and effectively position the safari truck ahead of the action, and in the best position for the light. Don’t forget photography is all about the light.
My recipe, like many chefs, is simple. When you go on a photo safari with me, you are going with a professional African wildlife photographer and you will shoot like one too. We get out early and we stay out late for not just the golden light but for the blue hours too. On every safari drive our main objective is to get the best wildlife images possible. By having your own row, with maximum freedom and flexibility to shoot out the left and the right, and having a seat open next to you to place your camera gear on, you have the best chance of getting that award winning shot. As your expert specialist guide I make critical decisions about animal behaviour and light as quickly and effectively as possible. I am also available for questions and I give camera setting recommendations. Back in camp I teach and help you with your camera settings and photographic concepts and principles. I travel with an entire workshop on my laptop computer. I am available and approachable. This is my recipe and I can say that it works. Please read my African photo safari reviews.
Yes, I am happy to say that many of my safari clients have won awards in various local and international competitions from shots that they have taken on safari with me. I have had one repeat photographer who started out as a beginner and went on to win the mammals category (which is the largest category) in the most prestigious Russian competition. Also, most notably, I had a young photographer on one of my safaris who I taught to use flash and radial blur and he placed in the junior category of the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year, and went on to win the grand prize a few years later.
Photo safari costs vary greatly across the continent and range from $3000 for a large group safari to $300 000 for a private African photography safari. The industry is mostly priced in dollars across the continent and tourism is big business and the future for Africa. The most important factor to remember that you get what you pay for and that the devil really is in the detail.
Remember that at face value all safaris look the same but the best African wildlife photography safaris offer you the below and it all costs extra:
– On my photo safaris we fly to most of our destinations and we take the most direct route there. Time and comfort are of the essence so I use small airlines, charters and private airstrips close to the camps and in the best wildlife areas. This Africa photo safari is a good example of this.
– The best Africa photo safaris use camps that are located in the very best possible locations for photography, regardless of what they cost. When it comes to finding photographic subjects and in the best light, I make zero compromise. I also usually use more than just one camp so that we spread our chances of seeing more animals. This especially applies to predators, which are territorial in nature. My Masai Mara photo safari and Okavango Delta photo safari are good examples of this.
– All the best African wildlife photography safaris make use of private safari trucks and private wildlife concessions where possible. I also only cater for 3 photographers per safari. Running small group scheduled safaris affects the overall cost of the safari dramatically and when considering a bespoke private African photography safari the number of people in your party will greatly affect the cost.
– The best African photo safaris are always inclusive with no hidden costs. From the time you land to the time you leave, you don’t need to pay for anything except personal gifts and gratuities that you feel you want to give.
– My African photographic safaris don’t just take you to the very best wildlife locations in Africa, they take you to the very best locations within these locations. For example, lots of safaris will take you to Amboseli National Park but when I take you to Amboseli National Park, I offer you photography in not one, but two exclusive private concessions as well as inside the national park. If you book a cheaper safari to Amboseli for example, you might land up in dust and traffic on a corrugated road, and you will be sharing sightings with mini-buses and not being able to drive off-road. This is what I mean when I say that you get what you pay for. This is just one example of countless I can give you but when you book with me, you have peace of mind that you are getting the very best African photo safari experience and with zero compromise on the photographic or safari experience, whatsoever. See my best Amboseli photo safari.
If you see a safari cost that is way below mine then you can be sure that it is not the best African wildlife photography safari, with all the criteria I listed in your previous question being met. There is just no way around these costs so it is very important that you compare apples with apples. For example, you cannot compare a safari that caters for 3 people to one that caters for 4 people. You also cannot compare the photo experience as having 4 photographers or more in a truck does not work as you are shooting into and over each other. Likewise, you cannot compare staying in a large hotel-type lodge to staying in a smaller more intimate camp. You also cannot compare staying in a camp that is 10 minutes from the wildlife action to a camp that is 40 minutes away. My African photographic safaris offer you peace of mind that no compromise has been taken and that you are getting the very best photographic results, and the very best African photo safari experience. See this Africa photo safari in the form of a workshop as an example.
Yes, the first being the travel plans. Pay careful attention to how you getting to your locations as one easy way of cutting costs is to book larger airlines and to fly into major centres. Also check luggage weight restrictions as you don’t want to have to go through the stress of being overweight and you certainly don’t want to have to leave critical camera gear at home. The 2nd big thing is to check the vehicle situation carefully and to assess whether you will be shooting out a tiny window and how many other photographers are in the vehicle. The 3rd is to check who is leading the safari? Lots of safari guides are leaving their lodge jobs to become specialised photographic guides and they are simply using the industry to see places, and they are doing this on your dime. Find out who is leading the safari, how long have they been a specialist safari guide and how many times have they been to the locations you are visiting? Then most importantly, have a look at their photographic body of work. Most times they will not be able to teach you beyond their own style, so it is really important that you approve of their photographic style and imagery. See my wildlife prints page to take a look at my style.
Over the past 20 years, I have spent thousands of hours in Africa photographing (read an interview here). You are quite correct that these days almost everyone seems to sell themselves as a wildlife photographic expert or professional. Many people leading photo safaris are indeed experts, but they are expert marketers and social media gurus. I like to think that my photography is my foremost qualification to lead Africa photographic safaris and workshops. I do not digitally manipulate my work and all my subjects have been photographed in free and wild conditions. Here is a link to my Fine Art Wildlife Gallery and social media.
I was also a nature conservationist long before I was a photographer and I have studied African wildlife and ecology in great detail. As a result, I am able to predict unique behaviour which is a skill not often highlighted in the African photographic safari industry. In a two year period I once saw 16 kills (actual take-downs). While lots of luck is involved, knowledge of animal behaviour also plays a major role. See a video of one here captured on this Africa photo safari in the form of a predator workshop.
Having a photographic portfolio and an intimate knowledge of Africa’s wildlife and ecosystems is not all that is needed for one to qualify to lead the best African wildlife photography safaris. As a photographic safari guide you must be able to make this knowledge relatable. I am a people person and please read my guest testimonials to get a better feel of who I am.
Yes, my books sell well and I run a highly exclusive fine art wildlife photography business. I have been commissioned by the National Geographic Channel as a photographer for the launch of their Great Migrations series in the Masai Mara and I have hosted a solo exhibition titled ‘Africa’ for the National Geographic gallery in London. I have also been commissioned by the BBC Wildlife Magazine and Geo Magazine to compile portfolios on African Leopards. In short I have worked for the National Geographic and the BBC in both the areas that I offer safaris. You can see a small selection of my published work here and you can read my full bio here. I was awarded the most prestigious award in world wildlife photography when I was named the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013. I have placed a total of 7 times in the wildlife photographer of the year contest and most recently in 2020/21.
I have a complete wildlife photography workshop on my laptop in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. While I come fully prepared, my teaching style is relaxed. I will tailor both the content and style of my teaching to suit your needs. Every photographer is unique, with unique passions, skill sets, experiences and frustrations. My aim is to treat and teach you as an individual, and to make sure that regardless of your current level, I help take your imagery to the next level. All the best African wildlife photography safaris should do this.
Not at all. I cater for everyone from beginners through to semi-professionals. I delight in taking your imagery to the next level, in getting you excited about your photography and getting you passionate about Africa. Again, all the best Africa photo safaris should do this.
I have learnt to do this over the years and it is not as hard as it sounds. When in the safari truck I will help the more novice photographers with camera settings and general advice. While I do this, the more experienced shooters are shooting away. Back in camp I then tailor my tutoring to cater for both. This means that a more experienced photographer might need to sit and listen to a topic which he already knows a lot about, but I believe that even us experienced shooters need to be reminded of the basics from time to time. I will also always make sure I tailor the workshop component to the needs of the experienced guys as too, and usually a talk on flash really gets them going.
This is absolutely fine by me. Nothing on my African photographic safaris is compulsory. The main overriding aim for me is that you enjoy and get out of the trip, exactly what you want. If you just want to photograph together and go on safari then by all means let’s go! The best African photo safaris are always flexible.
Yes, bring them along. Although I design my safaris for photographers, photographers like to photograph exceptional wildlife right? Well, non-photographers also want to see exceptional wildlife so there is no conflict of interests. The only catch is that if they want to join the morning safari drive, they will need to get up early (we depart half an hour before dawn). For the rest, the safari is similar to a non-photographic safari and they do not need to sit in on classes unless they want to. Ok, there is another catch and this is that photographers like to spend longer than usual at sightings. Non-photographing partners will therefore also need a good dollop of patience. Often though, patience in the wild is equally rewarding for everyone.
Side note: I am not only a wildlife photographer, I am also a safari guide and qualified Nature Conservationist. Non-photographing partners will get the full safari experience as I share interesting facts and insights concerning Africa’s wildlife, people and ecosystems. All the best African wildlife photography safaris include this aspect.
Yes! I have years and years of experience as a safari guide and I will make sure that even non-photographing partners get the full safari experience. They will take in beautiful sights and they will share in an adventure of a lifetime. They will also learn interesting things about animals and about Africa in general. All the best African photo safaris take you to the most beautiful locations on the content and also offer an authentic safari experience. This is equally true for non-photographing partners. See this Masai Mara photo safari as an example.
For my scheduled safaris, I use a mixture of lodges and safari camps. I provide links to the camps on my safari pages so you can take a look at the accommodation yourself. This Africa photo safari, this ‘best Serengeti photo safari‘ and the Leopards of Londolozi are all hosted in lodges with air conditioning and large spacious rooms. This Kenya photo safari and most of the extensions, including the ‘best Amboseli photo safari‘, and those on my private African photography safari page are hosted in luxury safari tents. It is incorrect to refer to these lodgings as ‘tents’, they are the size of large bedrooms with flush loos.
An African safari would not be a safari without a spirit of adventure now would it? A traditional Hemingway safari involves penetrating the wilderness and then doing so in sure style. This is a tried and tested winning recipe, and I believe that one of the best ways to experience Africa is to do so under canvas. What better than lying inside your comfortable bed, all snug and warm, listening to lions roar or buffalo graze outside. For most of my safaris the tents are permanent structures and way more luxurious than most hotels, see this Okavango Delta photo safari. Sometimes I only use mobile camps that carry a lite eco-footprint and which are put in place just for us. An example of this is the 2nd camp we use on my Masai Mara photo safari.
Then join me on safari! The camps I use have charm and you will be more than comfortable. Some of our lodgings are just outright luxurious and lavish (see this place). If however you are wanting only luxury then please sign up for my Botswana and South Africa Predator workshop or my Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti Safari or my Leopards Of Londolozi. If you want uber-luxurious then it is best to book a private African photography safari and specify this requirement so that we can make sure we only use the top lodges.
This can be arranged easily. A Kenya mobile safari is the finest way to do a safari because it is both rustic and luxurious but be warned, it is the most expensive way of doing a safari. If you want to go real rustic then a Mana Pools photographic safari or a Zambia private photo safari are the way to go. If you enjoy walking then a Ruaha photographic safari is the ultimate.