Wildlife photography is a great career

Is that wildlife photography?

We talked about the subject in the last photo snippet. I would like to dedicate another blog post to this.

On our trip through Namibia animals were not in our photographic focus. Nevertheless, the large species such as elephants, rhinos, hippos, lions or cheetahs are very fascinating, especially when you can observe them in the wild. The Etosha National Park was therefore also on our route. A short time after you have passed the gate, the variety of animals is also increasing. You can drive through the park yourself, but you are only allowed to leave the car in a few places and of course you have to stay on the gravel roads. In terms of photography, you are limited because you need a good dose of luck. Where does the animal come from, how does it move, how far is it? With focal lengths below 300 mm you can hardly tear anything and then you usually have to take the subject as it comes. But that's all a matter of taste and there are certainly many photographers who have found their passion in this observational photography.

But one morning there was a decisive experience. We had booked a safari with a guide. The gates in the camps only open after sunrise and close after sunset. If you want to catch really nice light, you only have the guided safari. That was a very interesting trip. We saw a group of cheetahs in the distance by a watering hole and a lion basking in the first rays of the sun. Suddenly a rhinoceros was standing a few meters from the roadside. As soon as a somewhat rarer animal is spotted, the following happens: The position is passed on to other guides via radio. The vehicles roll up within a few minutes. It wasn't long before there were probably six or seven cars. Each tried to overtake the other. Everyone wanted to be in the front row and the guests in what was supposedly the best position. The rhinoceros clearly felt harassed. It apparently wanted to cross the street but couldn't because the cars were constantly on the move. In the back, dozens of tourists with their cameras at the ready. And I saw them already at dinner in the evening, proudly presenting their photo trophies. Lion? Do I have. Elephant? Do I have. Rhino? Yes, of course, I did too, I was very close, look. It was disgusting to watch big game hunting only with a camera.

Our driver broke out of the group at some point and drove a little further to form a corridor on the road where the rhino could cross. Then the other vehicles finally grabbed it and the animal could pass.

Is that wildlife photography? Not really for me. If pictures are created like this, I couldn't be happy about it. It's basically like a big zoo. What kind of photography is it that consists of buying the largest lens and then waiting until a guide more or less randomly brings you into the right position? Personal contribution and creativity equal zero. If then the animals are harassed in this way, then I could throw up.

Of course, the animals are doing well in the national parks. They are really nice to look at too. I was really happy to have binoculars with me. For me, this article is more about a look behind the scenes. Whenever I see a supposed wildlife photo now, I wonder how it came about and always have the safari truck rally in mind. Somehow the story behind a picture also counts.

I look forward to your comments. I lack the experience here. Is this an exceptional case or do you experience something like this all the time in the national parks?

Patrick Ludolph, photographer from Hamburg and founder of Neunzehn72.
I like all kinds of photography, but most of the time, someone has to be on my photos.
Feel free to follow me on Instagram. There are most of the current photos.