James Gifford Photography
Always an avid traveller, it was the continent of Africa and its wildlife that first captivated me from an early age, beckoning repeatedly until it could eventually be called home. Combining much enthusiasm and a smattering of technical knowledge, I eventually managed to ditch the London life and settled into what is a photographer's dream location in Africa.
I now spend much of my time in the bush, either photographing wildlife for editorial features, running specialist photographic safaris or shooting stills and videos for safari lodges for their marketing campaigns.
Like any wildlife photographer worth their salt, I would like to hope that in some small way my work makes a difference in highlighting the diminishing availability of the planet’s wildlife, whilst also illustrating the fact that raw beauty and true wilderness locations do still exist, if you look hard enough. It is not too late.
I believe there are only a handful of wildlife photographers who can legitimately claim that their images have a material impact on conservation and I am certainly not a member of that illustrious group.....yet! However, I do hope that the combination of my images together with the articles I have written and my video work does make a material difference to conservation on some level, whether by enticing tourist dollars into a country's wildlife coffers or helping a worthy research project achieve the funding they desperately need.
Having spent a decade living in Botswana, I am convinced that the true success of any conservation project must start with the people who have to deal with the consequences of living with wildlife. They hold the key to the future and it is simply unreasonable to expect them to conserve wildlife to the detriment of their own livelihoods simply because we think they should. To believe in conservation you must be aware of the beauty and value of what you are trying to conserve.
Photography is the perfect medium to increase that awareness; it has instantaneous, universal appeal and a visual simplicity that transcends cultural and linguistic barriers. What's more, it is an art form that can be acquired and practised by all ages, irrespective of their background and walk of life.
Whether teaching photography to local children or on safari workshops tailored towards keen photographers, my goal remains the same: to impart as much of my knowledge as possible and open people's eyes to the power of photography to influence the way we think about the world. Because it is a big and beautiful world out there and our children's children deserve the chance to experience and enjoy it as much as we have.