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.