08 July 2014 by Denise Slabbert

Photographer profile: Singita's Ross Couper

Read our Q&A with wildlife photographer Ross Couper, a field guide at Singita Sabi Sand game reserve. His ‘office’ is some of the finest game-viewing land in southern Africa. His philosophy on photography is ‘trust the light’ and ‘patience, patience, patience’.

Playtime for lion cubs. Image courtesy of Ross Couper

Where are you from?
I was born in Zimbabwe into a family that was resolutely rooted in the bush. I always look back at my parents like they were in the film, Out of Africa. My mother was a tourist visiting Africa from Australia and she met my father while touring Africa ... and that’s where it all began.

Ross Couper, doing what he loves best. Image courtesy of Ross Couper

What's your day job?
Currently I am a field guide working at Singita Sabi Sand.

When did your passion for wildlife photography begin?
Photography happened because of a don’t-know-what-to-get-you-for-Christmas situation with my wife. As a result she purchased my first camera with the hope of topping of my ‘Best Ever Christmas Gift’ list.

Wild creatures are a constant inspiration to Ross Couper's work. Image courtesy of Ross Couper

What inspires your images?
Finding an artistic view of capturing a unique moment; capturing an image where the viewer will be in awe of how the image was captured and evoke a feeling of being in the moment when it occurred.

As a wildlife artist, I always had an idea in my head before putting it on to canvas, and I find that I have the same inclination when it comes to my photography. 

I am a photographer who prefers to take time to really study my subjects. I like to effectively capture moments that showcase the beauty of the wildlife in Africa and the scenery that embraces every inch of the content.

How would you describe your style of photography?
I have a strong drive to acquire uniqueness in my images by capturing the beauty of the African surroundings and its wildlife, with the hope that my photography will inspire people around the world to travel and visit the wild areas of Africa and experience first-hand the imagery that has been captured. 

I’d describe my style of photography as artistic. I enjoy portraying a wildlife subject as if it were stepping out of the frame and engulfing the viewer to feel as though they were in the moment. Captivating an audience to view an image and wonder just how this photograph was captured.

Wild dog on the run. Image courtesy of Ross Couper

On tracking leopards ...
Tracking leopards can be one of the most rewarding tasks in the bush. This particular photograph (below) was captured around midday, in overcast conditions. What makes this image stand out is the subject. The female leopard was known to be nervous and rarely would she be seen during the day. This was the only occasion that I had seen this leopard during the day. 

Leopards can often become habituated to vehicles and we have the privilege of viewing them at very close range at Singita; however, there are a few leopards that never become used to the vehicles. 

This is a character trait that leopards can portray and it’s interesting to watch and often a reminder of how wild some of these animals are. So it’s an especially rewarding find to photograph one of these very wild leopards. She paused for a few moments in a tree where she was feeding on the remains of an impala, descended the tree and continued to watch the bateleur eagles that were flying above. As she sat next my vehicle I was spellbound by her beauty. It was a gratifying day to come home with two photographs of this leopard.

'Dimples of Light': leopard in black and white. Image courtesy of Ross Couper

What are the challenges with wildlife photography?
Patience, timing, light and subject availability are all just a few requirements that come to mind. There are always challenges, but I believe it’s how you overcome a challenge that makes you a great photographer.

What would you say to foreigners wanting to come and visit South Africa's wild spaces?
What are you waiting for? There is no place like Africa. It’s a place where you cry when you arrive due its beauty and you will cry when you leave because of it’s beautiful people. It will engulf you and sink deep into your heart as a special place that you will always return to. It’s a soul-enriching visit.

What's next for Ross Couper?
To spend every ounce of my time in the bush. I would like to be recognised for using a talent and great love for wildlife to inspire everyone to acknowledge the beauty of Africa and its people.

Unique sighting of a family of lion. All images by Ross Couper

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Category: Arts & Entertainment, Wildlife

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