Genres in photography | Johannesburg Wedding Photographer | Ben Viljoen

Genres in photography

I often find that people think if you are a professional photographer then automatically you must be good at all kinds of photography, like if you specialised in classical piano by day then you can by default also rock the roof off at night at a KISS concert, and in equal measure. I can sometimes trick myself in thinking along the same lines, but I am quickly humbled every time my car enters a wildlife area and my subject changes to animals instead of humans. There just seems to be a different law of photography governing these different genres. To put it bluntly, I think I’m OK with people photography, but I really REALLY suck at wildlife. I don’t know why really. I think it might be a patience thing and perhaps a willingness to go where others don’t, but I really have no idea. I just know that when I look at a portfolio of images by say Nick Brandt or Wim van der Heever then I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing while I’m contemplating a lion scene, or when I stop 100m into Kruger to admire a herd of impala. My images are almost guaranteed to be just, meh…

Once in a while I get a lucky break and I capture something that I vaguely like and might even consider printing, most often with zebra and sometimes the occasional elephant. This was one such time. I was recently commissioned to shoot a wedding proposal at Lebombo lodge in Kruger National Park, which is part of the Singita portfolio of lodges. (As a side note, I have been to a few lodges before but Singita Lebombo impressed me on many levels. The attention to detail in the overall safari experience is just in a completely different league.) I had to sign a confidentiality agreement so I am not at liberty to share about the shoot itself, but I wanted to share my feeble young angry elephant. Trampling around, shaking it’s head and trumpeting voraciously while staying so very close to mom, so cute. I enjoyed experiencing that moment, and the blur in the image, it reminded me a bit of that famous “charging elephant” photograph by Nick Nichols. It’s obviously not the same, and it was shot under completely different circumstances, but it triggered the memory of that photograph and how it was made. Just a cool moment, and an OK photograph.

Anyway, just to answer the question, no I don’t really shoot wildlife. But I sure do like it.

Young and mother elephants at Singita Kruger National Park


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