Photography Tips: What Should I Shoot?

It’s Jeff here – photo ambassador for Africa Dream Safaris. This seems like a pretty obvious question… but stick with me for a moment. You have chosen to go to one of the most photographically rich places on the planet. And ADS is going to put you in a position to capture some epic photographs during your adventure, that’s for certain. But “What should I really shoot?”

Yes. The animals are the big show here. And you are going to see a lot of them. Some of them will be very close, some of them will be silhouetted against the African sky in a distance… and a thousand scenarios in between. Once you are on the ground in the Serengeti no one is going to need to tell you what animals to shoot. Your camera will be clicking like you are holding a machine gun. My first time there I shot almost a whole memory card on my first herd of zebra. By the end of the trip we would round a corner in anticipation of something big and end up saying “oh… it’s just more zebra”. Yes, there are that many animals.

For most people, this is a once in a lifetime… trip of a lifetime. When you get home you are going to be very excited to share the images you have captured. And by all means… do it! But eventually, your friends and family will tire of seeing the 95 killer lion shots you brought home… or the 30 different angles you captured at the hippo pool. They’ll be curious about more than just the cool animals. They are going to want you to take them on a visual adventure of your safari… something to highlight the stories you are telling them. It’s to that point that I am writing this article.

When you get home you are going to be “going off” on your trip to Africa. And that trip isn’t going to be just about the animals you come across. It’s going to be about the drive into Arusha, the people on the streets, the woman carrying baskets on their heads, the men pushing the handcarts, the guy riding his bike with a stick full of the 50 fish he caught to sell laid across the back. It’s going to be about the clothes, the houses, the dust, the sky, the food, the lodging, the safari vehicle…. the list is endless… and that’s BEFORE you even get into the Serengeti!

The exciting news is that you are living during a time that offers up a LOT of options for sharing your cool safari photos when you get home. Ipads, smart phones, photo books, moving video photo shows, facebook, instagram, email, texts… the list goes on.

Africa is different. Your goal is to become a visual storyteller… and that means shooting more than animals. When you get off that bush plane on the grass runway. Shoot it. The emergency pamphlet in the back of the seat. Shoot it. That luggage tag. Shoot it. The mud on the tires of your safari vehicle. Shoot it. Your tent. Shoot it. The Maasi warrior who walks you to dinner. Photograph him! His sandals… shoot them. The label on the cookies ADS puts in your jeep. Shoot it. The lion’s paw closeup. Shoot it. The tracks in the sand, Shoot them. The bird picking insects off of the giraffe. Shoot it. The shower, the sink, the water bottle in your bed to warm your feet, the stars, the acacia trees, the soaps in the shower each morning, safari TV…. shoot it all. The point is, you want to come home with a visual library… not just a hard drive full of really cool animal shots. An African Safari is much more than that.

These are the pictures, intermingled with the great wildlife shots you will get… that are going to make the stories you tell come to life. The first time I went to Tanzania I came back with awesome animal shots… award winning stuff. But I forgot to really capture the essence of the experience… all the little closeups, the details, the things that are different… the things that make Africa… well….Africa. Think close-ups…. details. Every picture has a backstory. I tell people all the time that all I want to be when I grow up is a good dinner conversationalist. Well, to be one it really helps to have some visual aids. This is your opportunity to get those… don’t miss it.

It’s not that hard really. Just imagine that your parents or your best neighbors just got back from a safari and invited you over for dinner. What questions would you ask them? What would you be curious about? The people you invite over after you return will have the same questions.

For other helpful photography tips on equipment and technique, feel free to visit the Photo Ambassador page and click on the ASK JEFF link to send me any questions you might have. I’ll respond as soon as I see it.

Enjoy your safari!

1 Comment Leave a Comment

  1. I so appreciate your tips and your excellent writing and descriptions! I can’t wait to get there and take all those “capture life” photos myself. I am sure you have reached your goal of good dinner conversationalist, if this post is anything to go by!

    Thanks again!