Interview with a Professional Wildlife Photographer

We are passionate about wildlife and recently we met someone that shared our enthusiasm – Professional Wildlife Photographer, Nelson Albarran.  We had the privilege to speak to him about his life and career.

Tell us more about yourself?

I’ve always had an immense interest in photography but only in 2008 decided to take the leap of faith into purchasing my first professional DSLR camera. My day to day work back then involved organizing incentive groups and inbound tourism into Southern Africa. Travelling to beautiful locations, meeting interesting people, visiting luxurious Game Lodges and experiencing incredible safari sightings is what inspired me to want to capture and share those moments.

With limited free time to attend a professional photography course, I initially learned the basics through reading, researching techniques, video tutorials and of course networking with other “togs”.  But in photography learning is never over and I’m constantly still learning, even after having attended various courses at ORMS Cape Town School of Photography, new techniques and equipment are emerging on practically a daily basis. Good camera technology has become far more accessible to the average user and competition is strong, but as they say, competition is good. It makes us strive to improve our skills. The beauty of photography is that once you have the basics right, you can then start to experiment, and this is when it becomes its own art form.

I believe that as a photographer, you are constantly seeing things from a totally different perspective, always looking for that award winning captured moment, that one photo that people will stand back and say “Wow”!! This challenge and constant learning are what drives me, and having people appreciate my art, is at the end of the day a truly special sensation.

What made you choose photography as a career?

My career originally started in Hospitality & Event Management, through this I was exposed to many beautiful game lodges & private game reserves with abundant animal sightings and it just felt like I was wasting away an opportunity by not capturing and sharing these moments.

Why are you interested in wildlife photography specifically?

I enjoy capturing both people and wildlife as each is individual and no moment or emotion can be exactly repeated. The uncertainty of wildlife is exhilarating, just when you think you have seen everything, something new happens, best you have your camera ready!

What do you find most challenging about being a wildlife photographer?

In Wildlife Photography, you need to be patient. You can drive around for hours at a time and not necessarily get the animal interaction right away or keep getting “rear end” shots. Many photos come out looking “similar” but it’s up to you as the photographer to try and look for the creative angles & unique moments.

Please describe one of your best moments as a wildlife photographer.

In 2009 I was featured on 8 pages in South African Airways “Sawubona” in-flight magazine. It was an amazing feeling to have my work recognized and exposed to over 600 000 viewers that month.  One of the main photos of that feature was a Leopard drinking water. This cat followed us around for about 45min. We kept losing her in the bushveld and before we knew it she was back again literally following us and very relaxed about the vehicle and our movements.  I have featured again in a few other publications shortly thereafter.

The interest in wildlife photography seems to be growing.  Why do you think that is?

People are starting to realize the importance of conservation in general with many hunting reserves realigning their business ethos with more eco-friendly tourism activities. People are becoming more “tuned-in” to nature and experiencing wildlife in their natural environment is a far better experience than seeing them in captivity. Sharing these moments via social media, on canvas prints or photo books is fast becoming the new trend.

Tell us about one of your favourite photography spots.

The Sabi Sands area has a remarkable number of Leopard sightings and that is due to its elusive nature my favorite animal to capture.

What advice would you give amateur photographers?

My advice would be to attend as many workshops as you can. Hands on learning from a tutor and your peers have a much faster growth curve than just trying things out on your own.

What is one of the most common mistakes wildlife photographers make?

Putting the camera away too soon. Some of my favorite images were shot in almost pure darkness with just the light spill from the ranger’s spotlight touching the animal.

Thank you Nelson, for sharing your passion with us!

Please join us for a Wildlife Photography Course hosted by Nelson Albarran at Wag n Bietjie Lodge in November 2017.

Cultural and heritage tours are becoming more important in the Eco-tourism industry.

Cultural heritage tours are becoming more important in the Eco-tourism industry.

We find that the rise of Eco-tourism has changed the face of conventional tourism forever. Therefore government agents and private operators have to rise to the challenge. They have to develop new approaches in the tourism market. We see that cultural heritage tours are becoming more important in the Eco-tourism trend.

We go to the Cape Wine lands. This is a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here travelers can find beautiful nature and a very diverse cultural history.

We introduce “Bites and Sites Tours”. They are found within the heart of the Cape Wine lands.

Here travelers can find a private tour operator who has risen to the challenge. This operator has developed a new approach in the tourism industry.

Let us introduce Hanlie Fourie, the founder of “Bites and Sites Tours” in the beautiful Cape Winelands.


Hanlie, has combined her passions for food and travel and has coined the phrase ” food is the delicious expression of culture”. Hanlie’s company operate on the basis that a local agent invites you into their culture. They will take you beneath the surface to experience the “Real” thing. She has set an example in what can be achieved with cultural heritage tours.

They are all about authenticity and sustainability.

Locals make up the “Bites and Sites” team. These agents are from different cultural backgrounds.They live within a 30 km radius in Stellenbosch. Furthermore, these the agents are very passionate about their work and culture. Therefore they will give any traveler an authentic cultural heritage experience.

These agents offer different tours. They introduce the traveler to most cultures and heritage found in Stellenbosch. Travelers can book different tours, such as a “Khayamandi township tour, with a Xhosa lunch” or a “Classic Cape Cuisine Walk.”

I think that this tour company is a good example of the new era in tourism.

Hanlie and her team have effortlessly taken up the challenge in the Eco-tourism industry. They created a company that is guided by most of the core aspects of Eco-tourism. These aspects are cultural heritage, responsibility, sustainability, and education.  Furthermore, they are giving the traveler an authentic experience. The traveler will therefore, become the best marketer in the industry.

In conclusion, we find “Bites and Sites” a true example of “word of mouth advertising”, essential in promoting in Eco-tourism.

An authentically educational experience

Teenage Volunteering

Teenage volunteering is fantastic way to make new friends, see the world, and participate in unique and incredible community service initiatives. Join GoEco on fantastic programs around the globe, all organized to accommodate teenagers. All volunteers will receive certificates of completion. These projects are amazing resume-builders, great for college and job applications. Teenage volunteering abroad is also a great way to cultivate the foreign language you are studying in school, meet incredible people, and of course do your part to give back to less-fortunate communities abroad.

Teach Children and Surf in Cape Town

Volunteer at a surf and adventure club for children from disadvantaged areas in Cape Town. Be part of an opportunity for children to learn life lessons and stay off the streets. Volunteers receive surfing lessons during the school day and help teach the kids after school.

Cape Town Orphan Care


Travel to the exciting tourist destination of Cape Town, South Africa, and give back to the orphaned children in extremely under-served communities. Teach, mentor, and play with these children who desperately seek attention and care.

Cape Town Physical Education and Sports

Spread your passion for sports to children who have had few opportunities to learn and develop their skills in a structured yet fun environment. Inspire children to set goals and stay active, both on and off the sports field.

Orphanage and Teaching in Victoria Falls


Volunteer in the majestic and beautiful Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe! Make an impact in the lives of at-risk children by showing them that you care! Have fun, meet new people, and learn about Africa and its incredible culture.

Under 18 Community Involvement

This is the ultimate teen volunteer adventure experience! Enjoy the culture and beautiful beaches while you help with construction and renovation projects at local schools.

Cape Town Community Projects


Make an impact on communities living in Cape Town settlements through education, skills development and community improvement projects.

  • Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana