Pangolin Photo Safaris wants to broaden their search for talent down to the south of the country
After taking in the winner of the 2021 Pangolin Photo Contest in the Birds category, Brains Monekwe, on four nights of a photographic safari and masterclass in photography, locally based Pangolin Photo Safaris will be training five more Batswana this month (February 2023).
The quintet is from what has been described as BW’s finest nature photographers club and will join Pangolin’s resident photo hosts for a weekend of wildlife photography training.
Wildlife photography talent
The Director of Pangolin Photo Safari, Toby Jermyn, told Time Out: “We are always on the lookout for new wildlife photography talent and each of our resident photo hosts has an understudy that we are training up to becoming fully-fledged wildlife photography guides.
“When Monekwe won the round in the Pangolin Photo Challenge, we realised that we had not broadened our search for talent down to the south of the country, Gaborone.
“Most of our understudies have come from the local areas of the Chobe as well as the Okavango region, but it appears there is a thriving wildlife photography scene in the capital. Monekwe is an exceptional talent and we hope to meet and help develop more talent like his.”
Inclusion of Batswana in the wildlife space
During his training at Pangolin, Monekwe – who is a Gaborone based wildlife photographer – raised the importance of including Batswana photographers in the field. He had observed that wildlife photography, wildlife tourism and issues of conservation as a whole are still largely dominated by white males in their late ages.
“We are trying to change that narrative,” he said. “Our BW’s Finest Club members are well under 40. We did a lot in sparking the love for nature, camping and safari travel among our fellow countrymen.
“We want to continue inspiring the upcoming generations with our craft. It is a very expensive passion to follow, from high-end expensive cameras and access into safari travel.”
Benefits of mentorship
Monekwe also highlighted the importance of the mentorship and training under the tutelage of Pangolin where his photography experienced serious growth.
“That is why I felt my mates needed to go there as well,” he said. “You come back as a professional. I started appreciating photography more after that and I even started selling my works because it was also a boost of confidence.”
The modern wildlife photography enthusiast
As the pre-eminent photo safari operation in Botswana, Jermyn said Pangolin Photo Safaris aims to give back to the community by training as many wildlife photographers to become photo safari hosts to satisfy demand.
Botswana has always been regarded as a top safari destination. With the advent of digital photography over the last couple of decades, demand for more specialist photo safaris has boomed.
“We are also working closely with our safari partners, doing workshops to upskill their guides to understand the specific needs of the modern wildlife photography enthusiast,” said Jermyn.
This week they are hosting eight guides from Ker and Downey Botswana who will be attending a photo safari bootcamp over five days where they will get to grips with a range of cameras and lenses.
They will learn more about lighting and positioning of boats and vehicles to make sure that their clients are in the right spot at the right angle to capture the action.