Interview with a Photographer | James Suter

Where’s home? 

Cape Town, South Africa

 What is the favourite place you’ve travelled to? 

Niassa Reserve in northern Mozambique is close to my heart. It is like nowhere I have been before but with that said - there are many places that are high on my list - like Kruger National Park where I lived for 5 years.

How did you get started as a photographer? 

I was a game ranger / field guide working on a private concession for Singita in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. I wanted to document the incredibly wildlife I was seeing on a daily basis. The encounters, the interactions, all the moments that I was sharing with my guests. So I got a camera and did a short online course and just began documenting my journey as a guide.

What camera equipment / software / tech do you use?  Any must haves?

Mainly use Canon products, I also make use of a sony A7S 11.

What photographers have influenced you, how you think and shoot? 

I am a fan of many of the National Geographic photographers like Ami Vitale. I also am inspired by the work of Brent Stirton and David Chancellor. Steve McCurry and Paul Nicklen are incredible photographers whose work has had an impact on me. 

Any top tips for Instagram? 

If I am completely honest although I am a Photographer - I have never seen myself as this first and foremost. I am first a Guide and someone that has a passion for wildlife and conservation - this is what drives me and the photography comes in as a way to share this, to document what I experience and to educate people around the world about the plight of wildlife in Africa and to get people excited about our incredible natural world. I feel like this passion of mine has come through on my social platforms and I have been fortunate to travel to some amazing destinations which helps in terms of creating content. So my ‘top tips’ would be to share and post photographs that mirror your passion and that have meaning to you because this will come through and people will be drawn to it. Also engage - I feel this is important too - to engage with others and connect with the Instagram community especially in your field - so for me this would be wildlife, conservation, nature related accounts. Another tip would be of course sharing only your best photographs - don’t post for the sake of posting if that makes sense.

What are you trying to communicate through your photographs? 

I am trying to share my passion for wildlife and conservation, hoping that through these photographs I will inspire others to get involved in the conversation, to help where they can. I also want to educate people around the world on important issues that relate to endangered species and conservation. I run a company, @blackbeanproductions that through film - documents conservation stories around the continent.

What motivates you to continue doing what you’re doing? 

My love for Africa, the people, the wildlife and wilderness areas. The people I meet on the ground also motivate me - those that are working with communities in Africa, are part of communities and those that are doing amazing work protecting wild places and wild animals.

Are you a bathroom singer? 

Not so much a singer and these days limit the length of my showers due to the water crisis in Cape Town - so not really time to get creative.

Do you have any advice for young aspiring photographers? 

Take photographs of those things in life that are important to you - your passion will shine through your photographs. Whether its something small or something big - photograph what you love rather than what you think people expect or want to see

What are your goals for the future, regarding your work? 

To continue  sharing untold stories from Africa and photographing the journey as I go… I would also like to do a long roadtrip with my family and new son Tom - and really immerse myself in this for a few months maybe a year - who knows!:)

James Suter