Written by Amish Chhagan

 

“When you look a wild animal in the eye, it’s like catching a glimpse into the soul of nature itself.” – Paul Oxton

 

Wildlife photography relies on one’s intuition to capture fleeting moments, often requiring split second decisions. Our intuition is nurtured and fine tuned through experiences, practice, and learning. In wildlife photography, that means learning to anticipate animal behaviour. This helps by going on as many safaris as possible! The key here is to assume everything and expect nothing, keeping your senses aware and in tune with your surroundings. We have a lot more in common with animal characteristics than what we may realise – finding these in nature, framing and recording those moments using the medium of photography is a mindful and present safari experience.

The Safari

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Photo by Chags Photography

photo-safari-arial

Photo by Chags Photography

After weeks of preparation, Amish, Jessica and Damian embarked on an adventure with Royal Air Charters, starting at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, destination: Lower Zambezi. With a luxurious 4 nights booked in at Royal Zambezi Lodge, the group had a fantastic few days of adventure and wilderness ahead of them. Excitement was in the air as the flight carried them over the escarpment and the valley opened up beneath them. The clicking of cameras began… aerial views of the mighty Zambezi River are an awe-inspiring composition. Landing at the Royal airstrip, the Royal family was there to welcome the photographers, anticipation from both sides ready to share in the wonders of the Lower Zambezi. Locked in to adventure and loaded with curiosity the group climbed into the safari vehicle – Let the adventure begin!

First stop: Conservation Lower Zambezi

The very first day of the photo safari in the Lower Zambezi the group spent about an hour at Conservation Lower Zambezi, learning about some of the projects and initiatives, the key species in the valley, as well as a little about animal ethology – anticipating animal behavior is key for wildlife photography! Amish organised this with CLZ as he believes it’s imperative for wildlife photographers (especially the next generation) to understand the need of such organisations like CLZ, the importance they serve and hope that they in turn will continue to spread the message and support the cause in whatever way they can. Conservation Lower Zambezi is an organisation integral to the survival of the area – focusing on the protection of wildlife and the sustainable use of resources. Education, community, empowerment, and research are the backbone of the projects – the CLZ team were keen to share their knowledge and vision with the photographers. There was even a special guest appearance!

#saveourwildlife

As wildlife photographers, the moments we catch in the wild are not only to marvel in its beauty, but to create and spread awareness in a continued support for promoting conservation. We have a responsibility to showcase the delicate nature of our ecosystems – in its elegance, its resilience, its brutality as well as its interconnectedness with humans.

We can all do our part, monetary or otherwise, to support our local wildlife conservation organisations, not only for our viewing pleasure, but more importantly to help repair the fragile wildlife ecosystem that is constantly under threat by none other than ourselves. This gives us a bigger sense of responsibility as a human and photographer to use our work to showcase the beauty of wildlife we have on the planet.

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Photo by Chags Photography

chags-elephant

Photo by Chags Photography

Next stop: Royal Zambezi Lodge – Where Luxury Meets The Wild

Photo by Chags Photography

The deck at Royal Zambezi Lodge boasts panoramic views, offering changing scenes and colours throughout the day as the light changes, the clouds come and go and the mighty Zambezi flows beneath the open skies. The iconic sound of the hippo echoes over the water, coupled with the cry of a fish eagle. A distant alarm call from an impala completes the symphony – the melody of nature accompanying the view. Elephants appear in a lazy lumber gently grazing the lush grass on the riverbank, passing by a crocodile basking in the sun upon the shore. This is life at Royal.

 

The lodge is nestled into the edge of the river blending into nature. Spacious and stylish rooms overlook the river, an idyllic base for a safari adventure and true to its essence; the perfect mix of luxury and wild. Lunch and conversation is served on the deck, sharing delicious food and their experiences so far, looking forward to the next safari installment!

4pm Game Drive, The Wildlife Photography begins

Photos by Chags Photography

Amish’s goal is to share his extensive photographic knowledge and skills by unlocking your creative eye, using your imagination, and encouraging you to develop your own creative arc and process. He teaches you how to observe, anticipate, frame and focus on the scene before you, looking for the nuances in nature. 

Led by professional Royal guides, the group sets off on an exploration of various landscapes and terrain of the Lower Zambezi, immersed in the wild, cameras in hand, eyes scanning the bush with curiosity. Bringing the focus to the more delicate signs in nature, the guide alerts the group to big cat prints, merely hours old. Learning to read the bush is a sensory skill, observing the crack of a branch, disturbed dust and the lingering smells of wildlife.

Nature is fascinating in all its creatures great and small; the group stopping to observe and capture both. A special sighting of a Leopard Tortoise in the broad daylight gave the photographers a wonderful opportunity to practice low angled close-up shots, highlighting the intricate patterns and textures of this member of the small five.

Photo by Chags Photography

Photo by Chags Photography

Photo by Jessica Patel

As the saying goes, practise makes perfect

Persistence and patience are key. Observe, frame, focus, click – ask – click again – the group is captured by the pursuit of the perfect shot, continuously exploring their creativity from various angles.

Photo by Chags Photography

Photo by Chags Photography

Different times of day each offer different perspectives to the photographers, from sunrise to sunset. Royal suites are perfectly positioned to view the sunrise over the Zambezi River, a breathtaking scene, purple light changing to orange as the sun steals dawn. Lamplight and sunrise encase the morning in a warm glow. The smells of nature mix with the aroma of fresh coffee – both an invitation to rise with the sun, sitting on the deck enveloped by the scene beyond while wrapped in the folds of comfort. Where luxury meets the wild.

“Let the beauty of sunrise keep your heart warm“

Photo by Chags Photography

Photo by Chags Photography

A wonderfully wild experience

Photos by Chags Photography

Testimonials

Jessica Patel Edwards: @jpatedwards

“What an amazing experience! I enjoyed every moment in Lower Zambezi learning about wildlife photography and conservation, making new memories with friends, and gaining a new sense of appreciation for our beautiful country through the lens of my camera.”

“The photo safari experience provided the perfect foundation of technical knowledge and creative tools, which I can continue to practice and build upon going forward.”

First day photos:

Photos by Jessica Patel

Day four/five photos:

Photos by Jessica Patel

Damian Roberts: @damianroberts1974

“Great experience, Thanks Amish !! Was wonderful getting to know how to use my camera better while soaking up the beautiful nature and ambiance of the Lower Zambezi. Highly recommend this photographic safari.”

Join the next wild adventure with Chags Photography & Royal Zambezi Lodge

Who is the photographer behind the lens:

Growing up in Zambia, Amish was fortunate to get numerous opportunities to explore the flora and fauna of this spectacular region of Africa. Between the metropolitan capital city of Lusaka, where he grew up, and the numerous trips to various national parks in Southern Africa, he appreciated the glaring contrasts at a young age; ecological, physical, visual, but mental as well. The serenity of these vast lands and the excitement of spotting wildlife often transpired; more so when he found photography (or when photography found him).

Amish’s goal with his photography is not only to showcase the beauty of African wildlife, but to bring the viewers closer to these magnificent species and their natural habitat through his visuals. He uses the medium of photography to invoke the emotions depicted by both the subject and himself through his own creative lens, whether through interactions, mannerisms or nature’s circle of life. Photography is a very important component and tool in conservation and as such, Amish donates his visuals, his time with specific conservation projects and a proportion of any photography related income to key conservation organisations.

Amish has been featured and published in a number of mainstream media, including numerous awards for his photography. To learn more and to view his work, please check out his website at www.chagsphotography.com.

Contact Details:

Website: www.chagsphotography.com

Instagram: @chags.photography

Enquire Below for next year’s tour:

6-10 May 2022

LIMITED SPACE AVAILABLE