Photography on safari – looking beyond wildlife

If you just want to see animals, you may as well just go to the zoo! In the second ‘Sense of place’ feature Philip Lee Harvey looks at a different approach to photography on safari.

We’ve said many times before: photography is about trying to tell a visual story. During lockdown, if you asked me what I have missed most, it is being on safari. I’m normally on safari at least a couple of times a year with my work and it’s something I feel very comfortable doing – but if I went and only took photos of the animals I wouldn’t feel anywhere near as fulfilled.

The safari experience is much broader than that. What we’re really talking about is going to Eastern Africa and taking photographs of beautiful locations and meeting interesting people. Of course the animals are there and they are part of the system but it’s not the first thing I think about. I don’t think, ‘I need to take a photo of an elephant or lion’. Equally in my mind, a safari is just as much about the tented camps and the people I meet because they are integral to the experience.

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By Philip Lee Harvey

Born in Canterbury, England, multi award-winning photographer and film maker, Philip Lee Harvey has travelled the globe in search of his subjects, finding them everywhere from the dark drama of a Haitian voodoo ceremony to the stark brightness of Bolivian salt flats. He believes photography should convey the emotion of places and people rather than functioning simply as a descriptive guide. He has spent the past 20 years perfecting his art, researching and preparing shoots and then working spontaneously to capture a moment. His images focus on the character of people and places and are acclaimed for their graphic quality, use of light and composition. For Philip, photography acts as a physical and emotional adventure. His work is always a journey and an exploration of the perfect moment.