TOP NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER’S TOP TIPS
“Photography is the face of any conservation initiative – without good imagery depicting what it is that people are trying to save, nobody will know about it. The majority of people won’t get the chance to dive or experience these areas first-hand, making good photography critical. The photographer is able to reveal the soul and face of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) to a larger audience,” says renowned South African conservationist and award-winning photographer and videographer, Steve Benjamin.
His work is one example of how the depths of the ocean can be brought to life through the lens. Through his passion for the ocean, and marine life, he has connected with leading international filmmakers and photographers.
Having learned his art on the KZN South Coast MPA, Aliwal Shoal, Benjamin went on to assist on shoots with international photographer, Thomas Peschak, for National Geographic Magazine in the Seychelles, Mexico, Peru and the Galapagos. He also joined the team that would bring the Sardine Run to life for a BBC film series, Natures Great Events and the BBCs Blue Planet II series.
Now he is putting his weight behind the 2022 MPA Photo Competition that is being held to highlight the 41 South African Marine Protected Areas. The aim of the competition is to showcase the beauty and allure of MPAs as places for people to discover, relax, earn a living and respect.
Benjamin pointed out that, when it comes to highlighting the value of MPAs, the public needed images of places they can’t necessarily access themselves.
“The public reacts better to good visual imagery, it’s the best way to get the masses engaged with the topic. It’s the first hook into understanding a problem, and then you go deeper with text, interviews and video,” he noted.
The second ever Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Day is set to go global Monday, 1 August. To celebrate this important event, organisers have announced some creative competitions that will be taking place in the lead up to the MPA Day.
“There has been a definite shift these past few years as communities around the world become more aware of the importance of ocean conservation for the survival of our planet, with environmental days such as World Ocean Day and MPA Day playing a role in raising awareness,” said Dr Judy Mann, Executive of Strategic Projects at The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation.
“We want to have an even greater impact with our second annual celebration, which is why we’ve launched some great competitions to create awareness about the need to protect our ‘game reserves of the sea’,” she added.
Steve Benjamin’s tips for aspiring nature photographers:
- Get some basic equipment – even cell phones can be used to create incredible visuals.
- Make connections with experienced individuals, and learn from them. A good mentor is very valuable.
- Look critically at the films and videos you like – question why you like it and analyse the how the story unfolds. It’s the story that engages the viewer.
- Get competent at social media and put out as much content as possible. Practice makes perfect!
- Never give up – it’s a long game and you have to keep trying!
MPA PHOTO COMPETITION
Professional and amateur photographers can put these tips to practice and enter the 2022 MPA Photo Competition to highlight the 41 South African Marine Protected Areas. The aim of the competition is to showcase the beauty and allure of MPAs as places for people to discover, relax, earn a living and respect.
The photographs entered may depict anything above or below the water within a South African MPA. This could include ocean creatures and plants, captivating scenery, sports or recreational events, as well as tourism and research conducted within these safe spaces. There are a number of great prizes, ranging from merchandise to nature-based experiences, worth thousands of rands.
How to enter?
* Indicate whether you’re a professional or novice photographer.
* Photo size is limited to 3MB and 1920 x 1080 pixels.
* Entries are limited to 5 photos per photographer.
* All images must be named with the photo entry number, your name, and the MPA name (eg: 1johndoeDeHoopMPA).
* If you would like to be tagged on Instagram, include your Instagram handle.
* Send entries or get more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.