2020 in focus: the year’s photography highlights
DP: I've always loved wildlife, in particular travelling to Africa and going on safari. In 2010 I took a year out to volunteer in a game reserve in South Africa (Tembe Elephant Reserve), and I had the opportunity to work at a number of safari camps in Botswana (Chobe, the Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi NP) and Zambia (South Luangwa). Having that amount of dedicated time in the bush to practice my photography really took me from being a casual shooter to a serious level photographer. Since my return, I have been on three safaris a year and I’ve gradually upgraded my kit bag.
RW: My father is a big Canon fan. From as young as I can remember he would always be in the garden taking photos of the birds - I decided from an early age that I wanted to do that too.
NB: For me, I’ve found photography a way to relax and because I’ve always been so interested in gadgets and electronics, I thought it was amazing what a camera could do. Ultimately, make memories that last a lifetime.
NK: As a youngster, my dad always had a camera and I would pester him to use it.
DP: I always say I am a safari enthusiast first and a photographer second. I would still go on safari even without a camera (I often go on walking safaris without a camera), but it is the beauty and diversity of Africa's wildlife and the challenges of capturing it photographically that has inspired me.
RW: I was fascinated by the way a single photo could essentially freeze time. Sadly, my best friend passed away in my late teens and I only had one photograph of us together. From that moment I made a promise to myself that I would always take as many photos of those I loved and special life events to keep and look back on - it really just went from there.
NB: The ability to keep memories alive through photography.
NK: My Dad was in the navy and he took pictures of the various places that he’d been. His images helped bring the stories to life, which inspired a journalistic approach to photography.
DP: I honestly don't remember what I had first. In the pre-digital days, I had a Minolta APS-C film SLR, then for many years I used the Panasonic Lumix FZ series bridge cameras. However, my first DSLR was a Canon EOS 450D that I bought in 2009. I have recently switched from my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV to the new full frame mirrorless models (I have both the Canon EOS R5 and the EOS R6).
RW: I was very lucky - my first camera was Canon EOS 350D! Now, I use either a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or an EOS R5 – I will be a Canon fan for life.
NB: Panasonic Lumix dmc-fz50.
NK: Kodak Instamatic was my first but I’m currently using a D500. However, excitingly I’m just about to make the move to mirrorless.
DP: I took this photograph of an African Wild Dog in September 2020 in the Laikipia region of Kenya. This photograph recently won a competition to be in the latest Remembering Wildlife book - Remembering African Wild Dogs - which will be published on the 6th November 2021. I am proud that this photograph has been selected to appear alongside images donated by many of the world's leading wildlife photographers and to be part of a project that is raising funds for conservation and increasing awareness of endangered species.
From a personal perspective, African Wild Dogs are my favourite animal and I have spent many trips chasing this elusive animal around Africa. This particular photograph was taken on a trip after the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The wild dogs in this region were almost completely wiped out in 2017 by an outbreak of canine distemper, and this pack, known as the Phoenix Pack, has bounced back strongly and had their third litter of puppies just out of the den. This image represented the hope and optimism I felt for a return to normality. Sadly, nearly a year later and with most safari destinations still facing travel restrictions, it feels like, for the avid safari goer, normality is still a distant dream.
RW: ‘The Girl in the Dress’ – I won one of the Canon Beat the Ambassador competitions with this image a few years ago and it will always be one of my all-time favourites. Despite the serious expression on Grace’s face, we had fun being creative and playing with the lighting, it’s been one of my more enjoyable shoots to date and still makes me proud.
NB: This image was taken on my Panasonic bridge camera way before I bought any pro gear. This was taken in a London park before I even had a tripod. My camera was rested on my bag and coats for the long exposure. It’s still an image that I look at and think ‘wow’! I’m proud because it was taken using budget equipment.
NK: The image below of Rhiannon Giddens was taken across a very crowded stage in the Club Tent at Cambridge, just as her bow started to denigrate. It captures a very fleeting moment.
DP: For anyone starting in wildlife photography I would say it’s two-fold., Firstly, never let the frustration of ‘not getting the shot’ spoil your enjoyment of a great wildlife moment, and secondly, never put the desire to ‘get the shot’ before the welfare of the wildlife or preservation of the habitat.
RW: The best piece of advice I would give would be to… experiment! What works for someone else may not always work for you - your own photo style will come with time and practice. Don’t be afraid to have fun with photography!
NB: Shoot for fun, and it’s not just what camera you have.
NK: Don’t be afraid to use the automatic modes to help learn the ballpark settings.