The power of photography

March 31st 2023  |   Miscellaneous, Unique Experiences  |  by   Katy Duncan
The power of photography

Africa is known for its evocative landscapes, incredible wildlife, and rich cultural heritage. It’s not hard to see why it’s a hit with photographers and artists alike.

A good photograph will capture the mood, emotion, and feelings, it will tell a story. Through photography, we can preserve those precious holiday memories.

We asked some clients who are photographers to share their knowledge and expertise on how to capture the perfect safari shot.

Titch Tetley photography
Since childhood, Titch has been passionately recording details of her own life and has now been a professional photographer for over ten years. She travelled to Kenya with her family and to Namibia on the group ride with Alice.

Giraffe and oxpeckers

Giraffe, Masai Mara

“This photo was taken in the Masai Mara using a Canon 5D Mark IV with a 70 – 200mm lens. Giraffes are really hard to photograph as they tend to be very shy and quickly walk away when a vehicle engine turns off or a vehicle gets too close.

Giraffes are my favourite animal, so I wanted a picture of this youngster, especially with the oxpeckers on him.  We had to work out how to get close to him without scaring him and without spooking him.  The light was fading so we had to be fairly quick, and I didn’t want a back view!

Elephant being fed, Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

Baby elephant, Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage

This image was taken at the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi using my Canon 5D Mark IV with a 70 – 200mm lens.

It was fairly crowded, hot and sunny so it was hard to get the images I wanted. I had to wait until the baby elephant was at the right angle to me and not blocked by others. They come out into the pen really quickly and know that it’s feeding time, so those bottles go down pretty fast. I changed the images into black and white as I feel it simplifies the image and there is less distraction for the observer. I wanted to capture the drips of milk!

Horse sunset in Namib

Sunset, Namib Desert

This photo was taken in the evening sunset whilst riding in the Namib Desert using a Canon 5D Mark IV 24 – 70mm lens.

I was lying flat on the ground and waiting for the moment when the horse ears were pricked, and the profile of the cowboy hat was right! The sunsets are so powerful and colourful but over so quickly.

Horse in Namib desert

Horse riding, Namib Desert

This photograph was taken on horseback in Namibia using a Canon Powershot G5 X Mark II which is a compact camera. The photograph is of the long linear dolerite ridges in the Swamp River Valley and is pretty much my favourite image of the whole safari as I just couldn’t believe the view and I was so desperate to capture it. The photo was taken in a rush as we had briefly stopped to have a drink of water and I noticed the loose horses standing still and looking. I scrambled to get my camera out of the saddle bag and take the shot before they moved.”

Susie Boissier
Susie has travelled with Aardvark Safaris on numerous occasions and is a keen photographer. Her leopard photo appeared on the front cover of our latest Drumbeat newsletter.

Lazy leopard

Leopard, Zambia

“We were driving to one of the ‘islands’ on Busanga Plains, Zambia when my husband Paul spotted this young male leopard quietly lying on the branch. We inched the Landcruiser closer and closer and the leopard just lay there watching us, completely unperturbed. We were so lucky to have the evening light right behind us for this shot. The following morning we witnessed one of the local lionesses hunting this leopard but thankfully he managed to hide himself and he got back to a safe tree. I was using a Canon R6 with a EF100-400mm lens and a Canon Mount Adaptor.

Half collard kingfisher

Half-collared kingfisher, Zambia

We were staying at Musekese camp in Kafue National Park, Zambia and were in a boat on the Kafue River when we spotted this vibrant kingfisher staring intently at the water, hoping to catch his supper. We watched him for a good half hour, with the low evening sun showing up his glorious colours as he posed very gracefully on the branch. Again I was using the Canon R6 with a EF100-400mm lens and a Canon Mount Adaptor.


Crocodile, Zambia

On another trip on the Kafue River we saw this juvenile crocodile basking in the sun. He was so well camouflaged that he was quite difficult to spot – I just loved that glinting eye and those cruel teeth!
I was using the Canon R6 with a EF100-400mm lens and a Canon Mount Adaptor.”

Catherine Ingleby
Catherine Ingleby is a renowned wildlife and equine artist based in Berkshire. Her work, with its distinctive use of vivid colour and a sense of movement, bridges both the contemporary and traditional.

“I use a small Sony Alpha Camera, about eight years old with a 200mm. It’s not the fanciest piece of kit but was the smallest and lightest I could find and was bought before a riding trek in the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan as it can easily be tucked down the front of my jacket while on a horse.

My intention on safari is to record compositions, movement and light as a memory aid for when I am back painting in the studio, the technical side of photography is not as crucial, and although my little camera has its limitations it is perfect for my requirements.

Hyena, Kenya

Hyena, Kenya

This was taken while staying at Offbeat Mara, with our guide David. Heading back to camp in the morning on what had been rather a grey day we came across this very relaxed hyena asleep on what was clearly a comfortable and warm rock. David edged the truck slowly around the pool until the hyena lined up with his reflection and I could get the shot. We waited a while until he slightly opened his eyes, so the effect was a dozing hyena, not a dead hyena!


Giraffe, Kenya

This photograph was taken at Sosian lodge with our guide David. These two young giraffes had been messing around, play fighting and tussling with each other. I always love this sort of behaviour because if you wait long enough you almost always get an interesting composition. Sure enough, after about half an hour, and with the beginnings of mutiny from my teenagers in the back, the giraffes aligned perfectly to cross their necks into the frame.

Mother & Baby elephant

Mother and baby elephant, Kenya

This photo of a tiny baby elephant was taken when we were leaving Sosian Lodge, this is yet again proof that you will always see the most game and get the best lighting conditions when running slightly late for a flight!”

Victoria Young

My love of photography started in 2008 with the purchase of a digital SLR for a safari holiday to Kenya. Coming home with memory cards filled to the brim, I realised that my camera was the means to keep those precious memories alive.

Lion Cubs

Lion cubs, Kenya

“This photo was taken in December while staying at Offbeat Ndoto, at the Mara North Conservancy after an afternoon of pretty heavy rain I knew that puddles could prove irresistible to lion cubs so we stuck it out until the rain stopped and sure enough the cubs came to life. It’s always worth going out in the rain! It’s when the magic can happen. The other vehicles had given up.

The cubs were running up and down chasing each other and covering a relatively large area. I’d taken some shots where there was a small stream hoping we’d get some jumping shots, but we moved to this termite mound which I thought would be a good backdrop and hoped would be attractive to the cubs.

This was taken on my Canon 1dx mkii with a 400mm lens. My shutter speed was 1/1000 as I knew I wanted to freeze the action. This camera has a really high shot per second capability which was important because I wanted to avoid any “crossover” between the cubs (a big no-no to photographers), so I needed to get as many as possible even just to get one I liked.

In the end, I had about a dozen or so shots from this short sequence. If I’m being critical, I’d have preferred to have been a little more to the left to get more of the other cub’s face but that’s wildlife photography for you!”

Got photos to share? 

If you have travelled with us before and would like to share your images please e-mail katy@aardvarksafaris.com. You never know your photo could make the cover of our next Drumbeat newsletter.

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a safari encompassing any of the destinations mentioned here (or any of the many others from our little black books that we’ve built up since 1999). Our team of experts has travelled widely throughout Africa and can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.

Do get in touch – chatting to people by phone or email is what we do best. We listen, we explain, we answer all sorts of questions even those you didn’t know to ask, and finally we make suggestions. If this is your first time to Africa or your twenty first, we have a team standing by to help make the planning easy and the journey the best ever. Please get in touch whatever stage you’re at.

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