Living the photographer’s dream

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Will Taylor and Gerald Hinde are living their best life! They’ve spent hundreds of hours out in the African bush capturing wildlife through the camera lens. When they’re not busy creating stunning coffee table books, Taylor runs a travel agency in Dallas, and Hinde is a retired businessman.

Their most recent success story is The Big Seven, published by HPH Publishing, and launched at MalaMala, their favourite game reserve. It’s the latest of several successful wildlife photography books they’ve compiled.

They started working together when Taylor (a qualified zoologist working as a ranger) assisted Hinde on a leopard project at MalaMala during the 1990s. After collaborating on many projects and even movies, Hinde accepted the challenge from Heinrich van den Berg of HPH to present something more unusual – a new range of images.

The photographers were determined to deliver.

“We had to think of lower angles, remote photography, and photographing from vehicles; we even tried running with some wild dogs to capture them,” says Taylor. He emphasises, however, that wildlife photographers should never disturb animals. “Think about staying out of trouble before getting into it,” he advises.

The photographers wanted to include iconic animals and decided on a few species from East Africa and Botswana, as well as animals from different areas like riverbanks and open savanna. “We grouped animals according to what made sense to us in the hope that each chapter reads like an adventure.”

An adventure of their own involved the ‘disappearance’ of a pride of 38 lions in the Savuti. After following the lions for some time they decided to take a break and relax on the roof of their vehicle with a drink. They settled on top of the vehicle and it wasn’t long before they realised the lions had moved on. “We drove around all night but just could not find them again,” Taylor laughs.

Gathering the right type of images for a book takes perseverance, and both agree that shooting digital makes the task easier while ensuring superior quality.

Van den Berg echoes the photographers’ views when it comes to wildlife photography. “Taking photographs for publishing is an art in itself,” he says. “The same kind of photos, taken with the same lens, with the sun shining from similar angles, makes a boring book.”

Books like The Big Seven enjoy a niche market with appreciative wildlife enthusiasts, he says. “Electronic reading may trend, but nothing beats holding a book like this in your hands.”
As a publisher, his challenge is to process the digital images into what the photographers have envisioned. “The master copy only exists in their minds,” he reasons. “To predict the way light reflects on ink holds my secret to success.”

Written by Mariana Balt

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