Africa has many absolutely fantastic guides, many of whom we consider friends, it does, however, have far fewer high quality photographic guides. The first decision to make when talking about guiding is whether you want your guide to be a photographer who may not be your primary guide but will be there to offer you tips and some post safari tuition, or are you happy for your guide to be a great guide with some knowledge of lighting and positioning but not a professional photographer. Which of these options is more beneficial to you will depend on what you are looking to get from the holiday and your own level of experience. The most important thing is that you have a private guide if you really want to focus on your photography, this means that you have far more flexibility, you and the guide can discuss where you go, what your interests are and what your schedule is, you can then tailor the experience to you each day. Another advantage of this is that if you come across a good subject then you can spend as long as you wish with it without any pressure to move on and if you have any special interests such as birds, big cats or landscapes then you dont need to worry about anyone else in your vehicle not having the same interests. If the cost of a private guide is too great then we suggest a specific photographic trip where you will join other keen photographers, this is our second choice but there are some really good choices for this and we can help you in deciding which set departure will suit you best.
Africa is a truly wild continent and it is the unpredictable nature of the continent that makes it so exciting, what many websites and tour operators will not tell you is that the best time of year to visit for photography is often different from a “normal safari” because light and environmental conditions change throughout the year. For example, the game viewing towards the end of the dry season in semi arid countries is generally fantastic, with limited permanent water and herbivores struggling it is the time of the predators, however, the light conditions are not great for photography, the sun is up quick and the amount of dust in the air takes away the golden light conditions of mornings and evenings very quickly. For this reason we prefer the shoulder seasons for good photography, you get better light conditions, and can stay out longer due to lower temperatures and the more time you spend the better the odds of getting the shots that you are looking for.
The other difference between a true photographic safari and say a walking safari is the itinerary itself. A good walking safari will often move every few days going from one area to another, a photographer would be wiser to spend more time in one location, you get to know an area and spend less time transferring between camps and more time focussing on your photography. This isn’t to say that you cant still have an exciting and varied itinerary but we would suggest that a longer itinerary is better, after all the more time you spend behind the lens the better your chances of capturing those magical moments.